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Lucas County OKs townships for power buying unit

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Gerken

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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Lucas County commissioners Tuesday approved participation for the county's unincorporated areas in a bulk-buying agreement that also will lower electric rates in most other area communities.

Commission President Pete Gerken said the deal, when added to the savings from a recent "power auction," will save residential and commercial users $87 million over 22 months.

Mr. Gerken attributed the negotiated rate to lower demand for electricity and the county's persistence in encouraging the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to allow an auction among competing electricity suppliers.

The resolution approved yesterday will allow the county to enter into a bulk-buying agreement with FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

"This is pretty much a result of us standing before the PUCO to get their attention to rule in favor of ratepayers and they finally have," Mr. Gerken said.

He said energy suppliers are under reduced demand for their product, with large users such as auto and steel plants shut down, making them more willing to offer discounts to a bulk buyer such as the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition.

"With less demand we can finally be more competitive," he said.

The coalition communities are Maumee, Oregon, Sylvania, Toledo, Northwood, Perrysburg, Holland, the unincorporated areas of Lucas County, and Lake and Perrysburg townships in Wood

County.

Each community in the coalition must approve the deal that runs from August through May, 2011. Residents would receive the discounted rate unless they choose to opt out.

A recent PUCO power auction determined that FirstEnergy will pay 6.1 cents per kilowatt hour through May, 2011. With approved fees added in, consumers will pay about 6.9 cents per kilowatt hour.

Coalition residents will pay a monthly rate of 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour, while 23,000 commercial customers will pay a rate that is 4 percent below the 6.9 cents rate.

Mark Frye, an energy consultant who represents the coalition, said there has been little competition since around 2000, but that the recession has prompted lower prices.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.

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