REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Electric charges go back on deal

It's a promise. Pure and simple. More than that, it's a contract. The utility companies that make up what is now First
Commentary
May 19, 2010

It's a promise. Pure and simple.

More than that, it's a contract.

The utility companies that make up what is now FirstEnergy made big promises a few decades ago for the advantages of the all-electric home.

Certainly the supplier of most of the region's electricity has an interest in people using as much electricity as possible, so one can understand enticing people to build and buy homes that use electricity for everything, particularly heat.

Electric heat can be a home's biggest user of electricity, as anyone who gets a monthly bill can attest, so the incentive came in a usual way: All-electric homes get a discount on their bill.

Except FirstEnergy lately has been wanting to get rid of that discount, which is why last year some folks with all-electric homes suddenly saw their winter bills shoot skyward. Some wrangling with the"supposed watchdog, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and that got whittled down to a temporary discount for people who'd been living in their all-electric homes since March 2007 or before.

Not good enough, FirstEnergy. Not good enough, PUCO.

Fact is, FirstEnergy, you and your predecessor companies dangled that carrot in front of people to get them to build and buy all-electric houses. It's wrong to snatch that away.

As for you, PUCO, be the watchdog you paint yourselves to be, and require the discount to not only stick around, but stick to each house so it's not at a disadvantage in the real estate market.

FirstEnergy should take the long view: squeezing every penny out of the people you enticed into your trap will simply result in more ways being sought and found to cut electric consumption (or find alternative sources, such as sun and wind; solar panels and small turbines continue to get better) and then where will you be?