Ohio utility FirstEnergy was a major supporter of freezing the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The company has made more than $600,000 in campaign donations in the past two years to Ohio elected officials.
The Checks and Balances Project is concerned that this money is coming from FirstEnergy customers. We want to ensure that ratepayer money isn’t being used by this monopoly to raise FirstEnergy customers’ monthly bills. Below is a copy of a letter sent by the Checks and Balances Project to the FirstEnergy board of directors on behalf of FirstEnergy customers:
July 25, 2014
FirstEnergy Board of Directors
c/o Vice President and Corporate Secretary
76 South Main Street
Akron, OH 44308-1890
To the FirstEnergy Board of Directors,
I am writing on behalf of your customers regarding concerns that you are using their money to lobby for legislation that will increase customer electricity bills. Specifically, I am referring to your company’s support of recently passed Senate Bill 310. As you know, this legislation freezes the state’s successful and popular renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
You should also know that last year, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio found that cutting renewable energy and energy efficiency standards could cost Ohio consumers more than $1.1 billion dollars. Furthermore, the same study found that these standards have already lowered electricity bills by 1.4%.
This is no doubt why the standards have been so popular. A majority of Ohioans, major businesses and the state’s leading newspapers supported maintaining the standards in place.
Notably, your company did not. In fact, FirstEnergy lobbied extensively against the standards. You also put your money where your mouth is to an impressive degree. Financial records show your company and its employees have donated nearly $600,000 to Ohio politicians since July of 2012.
As a regulated monopoly, you have a responsibility to ensure that you charge ratepayers a fair price for electricity because your customers have no choice but to be your customer. Certainly, you have the right to lobby for policies that are in your shareholders interests. But, it is unseemly and unfair to customers to use customer money to lobby for policies that raise their bills. Your actions are more questionable, given your recent decision to end your energy efficiency programs.
I should note as well, this is not the first example of your company potentially using customer resources against their own interests. As reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, your company sent a letter to customers urging them to support the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards freeze.
I urge you to ensure your customers that you are not using their monthly electricity bills to raise their energy bills.
Scott Peterson, Checks and Balances Project Executive Director