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Economy and Business

PUCO questions the fine print on FirstEnergy's fixed rates
Ohio utility regulators looks at extra charges for January's cold

Kevin Niedermier
In The Region:

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is investigating Akron-based utility First-Energy for a one-time fee that will show up in some customer’s bills.  The company plans to charge fix-rate customers $5 to $15 dollars for the extra electricity the company had to buy because of January’s cold. Fixed-rate business customers would pay up to 3 percent of their annual cost for the extra electricity.

The First-Energy’s contract stipulates that it can charge customers extra for one-time events. But PUCO spokesman Matt Schilling says the investigation is looking at how contracts are marketed to customers.

LISTEN: Fairness and the fine print

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The contracts affect more than 2 million customers, who have until May 9th to submit comments to the PUCO.

Shilling says no other Ohio utility plans to charge the fees.

FirstEnergy spokeswoman Diane Francis says the questions the PUCO is raising are understandable and the company is cooperating. She points out that the fixed rate customers are being charged only once for January’s higher usage.    

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