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Published: Thursday, 10/8/2009

Ohio asks FirstEnergy to delay bulb distribution


COLUMBUS — The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has asked FirstEnergy Corp. to postpone a program where it planned to distribute energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs to residential customers and charge them for the bulbs over three years.

PUCO commissioner Alan Schriber issued a statement yesterday saying bulb distribution would be delayed until regulators could re-examine the program's cost. Mr. Schriber stated he made the move after questions were raised by Gov. Ted Strickland, state legislators, and FirstEnergy customers.

Mr. Schriber said that although the PUCO authorized a bulb distribution program, it did not authorize the parent company of Toledo Edison and two other northern Ohio utilities to charge customers for bulbs. The Akron firm has not made such a request to regulators.

FirstEnergy, which announced the program Monday, said last night it would “work with” the regulators on the program. It had said residents would receive two bulbs that use 75 percent less electricity than traditional bulbs. The move falls under Ohio's new energy law that requires a 22.2 percent reduction in energy usage by 2025.

To offset its costs, the utility planned to charge customers $21.60, or about 60 cents per month for three years.

In a letter to Mr. Schriber, the governor wrote, “It is common knowledge that the efficient bulbs can be purchased for significantly less at popular retail outlets.” Mr. Strickland asked to delay the program until questions are answered.

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