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Sierra Club: Don’t use FirstEnergy

Melissa Topey • Oct 8, 2013 at 3:50 PM

The environmental group is encouraging people not to use FirstEnergy Solutions electrical service. The Sierra Club argues that to make any change to existing laws would threaten clean energy jobs, would have an environmental impact, hurt public heath and increase consumers’ electrical bills.

“They are putting profits in front of people,” said Rashay Layman, a Sierra Club community organizer. “FirstEnergy wants consumers to buy the most amount of energy at the highest costs for profit.”

Senate Bill 58 is before the Senate Public Utilities committee. Details are being worked out.

Current state law requires FirstEnergy and other large energy providers, such as AEP Ohio, to meet reduction goals that total 22 percent in energy saving by 2025. Operators must also generate 25 percent of total electricity to be generated by some form of renewable energy by 2025.

Energy efficiency is the cheapest way to decrease utility costs, as well as air and water pollution caused by the dirty energy of fossil fuels, she said.

In the state of Ohio consumers have a number of choices of different retailers, Layman said. Consumers can go to the websites for the Public Utilities Commission or the Ohio Consumers Council to see other providers, she said.

The Akron-Based FirstEnergy has been lobbying to revise state rules that set standards for energy efficiency and the amount of renewable energy required to be a part of the company’s energy producing portfolio.

FirstEnergy disputes the Sierra Club’s campaign.

“We are disappointed in the campaign. It is misleading and unfairly portrays our performance on energy efficiency, said Doug Colafella.

The energy operator feels relaxing the rules, approved in 2008, would actually save its consumers money. Colafella said increasingly stricter energy-efficiency requirements increase operating costs, which are passed on to consumers.

FirstEnergy also counters that it has meet the state’s targets, which require it to help consumers become more energy efficient, including mailing out kits that contain compact fluorescent lighting, energy-saving electrical strips and night lights.

“We sent out 141,000 kits recently,” Colafella said.

Consumers have to request the kits which they pay for as a surcharge contained in monthly bills.

Cost of the kits to the average consumer are estimated at .13 cents per month or $4.62 over the three-year life of the program.

FirstEnergy customers may not know they are also paying surcharges to have a refrigerator recycled.

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