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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FirstEnergy to Distribute Those Light Bulbs Again

Posted By on Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 2:54 PM

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Remember back in 2009 when FirstEnergy tried to force compact fluorescent light bulb use by shipping them to customers’ doorsteps unsolicited? There was uproar because the Akron-based utility planned to add a fee to monthly electric bills for 3 years to pay for the pricey luminaries. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio halted the plan.

Now it’s back. The PUCO approved the light bulb scheme today with only one apparent revision—if you want those light bulbs you have to request them and residential customers can ask for up to six. May as well take advantage of the offer because whether you want them or not, you will pay an extra 30 cents on your bill each month to pay for them.

The program is part of a broader plan the PUCO approved that will enable FirstEnergy to meet the energy efficiency and peak demand reduction of 22.2 percent that Ohio law requires by 2025. Consumers should know that the other provisions in the plan approved today will cost another $1.20 a month. Starting now.

What will the average electricity user get for the $1.50 bill increase?

FirstEnergy will immediately start paying $50 for your second refrigerators, freezers, and room air conditioners complete with free pick up and disposal. After 6 months the incentive will be reduced to $35.

Residential customers can get a free programmable thermostat that allows FirstEnergy to automatically set the temperature in your house back by 4 degrees for up to 4 hours during a “critical use” day. Fortunately, homeowners will be able to override the thermostat if they choose to.

There are other typical provisions including a discount on home energy audits, weatherization for low-income customers, energy education programs and of course, more light bulbs. Lowes and Home Depot will carry CFLs at only 50 cents per bulb.

According to the PUCO, using the CFLs will save the average customer $49.25 a year.

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