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Published: Saturday, 9/19/2009

Electric deal may ease deficit

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said Friday Toledo will get $3.2 million from FirstEnergy Solutions through the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition to help pay down the city's 2009 deficit.

"FirstEnergy Solutions' offer comes at a crucial time for Toledo," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "We have been struggling to balance our budget and this funding definitely helps as we seek ways to maintain essential services."

The city's 2009 general fund shortfall is predicted to be $7.8 million. The FirstEnergy Solutions proposal entails a six-year extension to the aggregation contract with electricity rates of 6 percent off tariff for residential users and 4 percent off tariff for commercial users, Mr. Finkbeiner said.

The deal runs through May, 2011. The company is providing the grants to Toledo and other areas under its "Powering Our Communities" program. The level of funding to each community is based on the number of customers who participate in the government aggregation program, FirstEnergy Solutions said in a statement.

The nine metro communities that make up the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition, the bulk buying group, in July sent notices that allow their citizens to opt out of a deal to buy electricity that the coalition negotiated with FirstEnergy Solutions, which is a

FirstEnergy subsidiary.

By doing nothing, residents of Toledo, Maumee, Northwood, Oregon, Sylvania, Perrysburg Township, Holland, Lake Township, and those living in incorporated parts of Lucas County automatically will get a new rate of 6.4 cents per kilowatt hour - which would provide an average savings of $30 to $40 annually.

Residents who did not want to be part of the deal must have notified the city by Aug. 7.

If they did so, their power provider, Toledo Edison, will keep supplying them electricity at a rate closer to 6.5 cents.

Grant money provided to the other communities:

•Lucas County, $1,019,000

•Maumee, $206,800

•Oregon, $253,362

•Perrysburg, $194,000

•Sylvania, $253,000

•Northwood, $100,000

•Holland, $50,000

•Lake Township, $100,000

Toledo City Council President Joe McNamara said he wanted council to review the offer.

"It sounds like it is a good deal, but council will need to review it to make sure it's fair to the consumers," he said.

If the money for Toledo is applied to its deficit, the city would be short about $4.6 million.

Voters on Tuesday rejected Issue 1 - the Safety First plan - that would have reduced Toledo's general fund deficit by $3.9 million. That would have left just $700,000 after the FirstEnergy Solutions money was applied.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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