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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2001

Most electric customers can pitch `opt out' letter

Toledo residents who are worried about electrical aggregation can throw that letter from Toledo Edison back into the pile of holiday greetings on the dining room table.

Except for those electrical users who accepted other deals offered earlier this year, the cheapest course for most residential electricity consumers is to do nothing with the letter.

The form letters are final reminders to many Toledo Edison customers that their electrical generation service is about to be switched to a new supplier. The letter gives residents one final opportunity to “opt out.”

The letter says that regardless of which company is the energy supplier, Toledo Edison will continue to deliver the electricity, with no change in service expected.

Customers who accept the switch to FirstEnergy or WPS Energy Services, another competing energy supplier, will save 3.5 percent off their electric bills starting Jan. 1, compared with customers who opt out and choose to remain with Toledo Edison.

“It's a no-brainer,” said Ralph DiNicola, spokesman for the FirstEnergy Corp. of Akron.

It's all part of “electrical aggregation” - or electrical aggravation, as city Councilman Peter Gerken calls it.

“All in all the program went pretty well, from looking at the numbers,” Mr. Gerken said.

Residents were notified several months ago and again this month of the pending switch to FirstEnergy Solutions.

Voters in Toledo and 12 other northwest Ohio municipalities voted in November, 2000, to grant their city governments power to negotiate bulk rates on their behalf. The authorization stemmed from an electricity deregulation bill approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 1999.

As chairman of the city council's utilities, public service, and environment committee, Mr. Gerken wrote the legislation that was approved by voters in Toledo.

Mr. Gerken said 9,256 Toledo households have elected to opt out.

As part of the agreement allowing for competition, First Energy - the parent company of FirstEnergy Solutions and Toledo Edison - was required to make 1,120 megawatts of electricity available to alternative suppliers to encourage switching.

A few power companies quickly snapped up those discounted megawatts and offered electricity to a limited number of customers at more deeply discounted rates.

Mr. DiNicola said the company is trying to encourage competition that would benefit customers.

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