FirstEnergy Corp is a utility company based out of Akron, Ohio. Last year, they came up with a plan to promote energy conservation. They were going to send their customers two compact fluorescent bulbs each. Then, a little detail emerged -- to pay for this, Fist Energy was going to tack a $21.60 surcharge to the electric bills of each person they sent the bulbs to. The cost of the bulbs to buy and distribute came out to $3.50.
Needless to say, the public was not amused.
Lawmakers, realizing they were looking at a voter revolt, called for a moratorium (read that: they slammed the brakes) on the program. That should have been the end of that.
Nope. In December, Fist Energy came up with a new three-year energy efficiency plan that is currently being considered by the public utilitites commission. It would let consumers get the bulbs from them voluntarily. But, in a case of one step forward two steps back, it also proposed passing on the costs of the scrapped original program on to consumers.
Let's take a look at the map. $427,000 for marketing, $120,000 in storage fees, and $225,000 in administrative costs. Equals $772,000 that Fist Energy is looking to stick its customers with. Ellen Raines, spokeswoman for the company, said, "We believe the costs are fair, accurate and were appropriately incurred until the program was suspended. The law allows the company to request recovery for those costs, which we have." Technically true, but there is a caveat -- the law permits certain costs to be recovered but only if consumers stand to benefit. How do consumers benefit from this? Let's ask the regulators. They did approve this, as Raines pointed out in the interview.
The hearing for this is scheduled for March 2. Some politicians are in for a planet-sized ass-chewin'....