FirstEnergy customers could see rate hike with proposed bill

FirstEnergy customers could see rate hike with proposed bill

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - What if your electric bill went up, but you got nothing extra for it? If FirstEnergy has a say, that's exactly what will happen.

The company is hoping for a rate hike that would cost all of its customers in Northern Ohio about $300 million a year and $5.4 billion over 16 years.

It's a plan that government leaders in Lucas County spoke out against on Tuesday.

"They're coming back for more. Enough is enough," said Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken.

He and others demanded state lawmakers vote against House Bill 178. It would create a zero emissions nuclear resource program that would allow FirstEnergy to raise your rates.

It's related to the two nuclear power plants the company owns, Davis-Besse in eastern Lucas County and the Perry Nuclear Plant in Northeastern Ohio.

"The legislature is picking winners and picking losers in the energy production game," said Gerken. "And at the end of the day, we pay for that."

Maumee City Councilman Dave Kissinger agrees.

"A zero-competition bill that benefits one organization over another is not the right thing for Northwest Ohio. It's not the right thing for my great city of Maumee," said Kissinger.

There's also concern the rate hike would hurt alternative energy investments like a second Oregon Clean Energy plant.

"They would go to other states that would allow competitive markets," said Oregon Administrator Mike Beazley. "If you're going to make the lowest price power but your competition is allowed to charge a higher rate and people are required to buy it at that rate, there's not much sense of going into business

But FirstEnergy spokesperson Jennifer Young said there has been a drop in energy usage since the 2008 recession and energy prices are down because of natural gas reserves.

She also said 1,400 jobs at the plants and thousands more support jobs are dependent on the nuclear power plants.

"The money that comes from this will ensure the plants will continue to operate. Keeping the plants operating will ensure all the benefits that come with nuclear are maintained for the state," Young said.

So what if the increase does not go through? Young said they could close or sell off the two nuclear plants.

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