No Bulbs: FirstEnergy Corp Postpones Light Bulb Program

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AKRON, OH (WOIO) - FirstEnergy Corp. continues to hold-off on the distribution of two energy-efficient light bulbs to each customer pending further discussion with PUCO, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

FirstEnergy Corp. had planned to distribute two fluorescent light bulbs to each customer despite the public outrage, including hundreds of customer complaints about having to pay for the light-bulbs they didn't even ask for.

FirstEnergy says " the energy-efficient light bulbs use up to 75 percent less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. By replacing two 100-watt incandescent bulbs with these energy-efficient CFLs, customers can save up to $60 over the life of the bulbs. "

Each customer will be charged $22-dollars for the bulbs being handed out. The fee will be tacked on to the customer's monthly energy bill over the next three years.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland got involved Wednesday along with other Ohio politicians and asked the energy company to rethink the program that basically forced customers to take their light bulbs and pay for them whether the customer wanted to or not.

The program is being offered as part of the companies' effort under Ohio's new energy law to reduce energy usage by 22.2 percent by the end of 2025 and reduce peak demand by 7.75 percent by the end of 2018.

FirstEnergy Corp. issued the following statement Wednesday related to its program to distribute the bulbs:

"At the request of PUCO Chairman Alan Schriber, FirstEnergy has agreed to further discuss with the Commission its PUCO-approved program to provide compact fluorescent light bulbs to customers of its Ohio utilities - Ohio Edison, The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison. We will work with the PUCO to respond to its questions and determine how best to proceed."

PUCO, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, had Chairman Alan R. Schriber issue the following statement regarding FirstEnergy's compact fluorescent light bulb program:

"The PUCO has received a large volume of calls and emails in response to the compact fluorescent light bulb program approved last month for FirstEnergy. Today, I received a letter from Gov. Strickland asking that the PUCO postpone the program until such time as we can address several questions raised by the governor, members of the Ohio General Assembly and FirstEnergy customers related to program details and costs.

As a result, I have asked FirstEnergy to postpone deployment of its compact fluorescent light bulb program until the Commission can thoroughly assess the costs associated with this program. The PUCO approved the program following consensus reached during discussions among the company and other organizations including the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Although the PUCO allowed FirstEnergy to implement its program, we did not approve the charge that will appear on monthly bills as a result. Reports in the media place the cost to customers at sixty cents per month for three years, which equates to $21.60 over the life of the program. The PUCO has not approved these additional dollars nor have we received a request by the company to do so.

The PUCO will gather additional information regarding the program and its related costs. Until the PUCO has specific details regarding the program costs, FirstEnergy should not deploy its compact fluorescent light bulb program."

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