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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2002

Edison wiring charge annoys Toledo council

Toledo Edison began last year to charge the City of Toledo for underground wiring to put in street lights, and that amounts to “an unwarranted and illegal increase in rates,” according to a proposed ordinance approved by a City Council committee yesterday.

The ordinance, by a 4-1 vote of council's environment, utilities, and public service committee, was referred to the full council, where it will appear on the agenda Tuesday, committee Chairman Peter Gerken said. Committee member Betty Shultz abstained.

If council approves the ordinance, “we probably would be forced to take some action through FirstEnergy,” Steven E. Ouellette, manager of rates and regulatory affairs for Toledo Edison's parent company in Akron, told the committee.

The utility has the option of filing an appeal with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, city officials said.

Mr. Ouellette said the utility is being fair to the city and is willing to continue negotiations.

“We are trying to negotiate with the city on special consideration for the city of Toledo over [that given] other communities,” Mr. Ouellette said. “We'd like to continue that moving forward.”

But Mr. Gerken said negotiations with Edison and FirstEnergy Corp. officials have been fruitless because “they're still asking us to pay for charges we never paid before.

“I think as a result of the meetings we may be at some impasse,” he said.

Until 1996, a contract between the city and the utility spelled out the terms of street lighting service. After that, the city and the utility agreed that the contract would be replaced by a tariff rate to be approved by the PUCO.

City officials maintain that conditions were not supposed to change - meaning no additional charge for underground wiring for street lights - because neither the city nor the PUCO has approved such costs.

Edison officials have said that underground wiring is not one of the costs included in the tariff.

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