FirstEnergy offers customers range of service options
By Randa Wagner -
When it comes to your household electric service, you may have more choices and options than you think.
Dan Deville, Area Manager for FirstEnergy Service Company, presented the Morrow County Development Office with a check for $500 from the FirstEnergy Foundation in support of economic development in Morrow County. He attended the February 6 county commissioners meeting to offer insight on any energy concerns they might have and acquaint the county with services FirstEnergy offers businesses and consumers.
“There are programs that help reduce electricity as well as provide options, financial incentives, rebates for both homes and businesses,” he said. “There are things that are free to do, like a home energy analyzer where a customer can register with their account, then answer a series of questions about their home (i.e. age of home, age of windows, etc).”
At the end of the questions, DeVille Said, the analyzer produces a ‘report card’ that recommends areas you could probably make investments in that would help reduce your total overall expense, along with least expensive options.
Other incentive programs at www.energysave ohio.com include HVAC Incentives, CFL Retail Program, Appliance Turn-In Program, Energy Efficiency Products Program, Easy Cool Rewards, Energy Audit, Energy Efficient New Homes, and a program for low income customers called Community Connections.
Programs for businesses include Incentive Programs, Business Energy Analyzer Lighting Incentives, Motors and Drives Incentives, Mercantile Customer Program, Refrigeration and Commercial Food Service Program, Traffic Signal Program, Specialty Equipment Program, Custom Incentives Program HVAC Incentives Program, Energy Efficient New Homes, and for Builders, Energy Efficient New Homes.
DeVille said FirstEnergy is proactive in keeping infrastructure for power grids and lines as trouble free as possible, noting the company had its customers up and running in four days after last July’s ‘derecho’ storm.
“For several decades, we’ve had a plan in place that inspects our system to identify those areas that require attention,” he explained. “We take a sampling of all of our wooden structures and perform a ground line test (poles usually break at the ground line) and determine the integrity of the pole. We classify it into ‘repair now’ or ‘repair later’ priorities, and I think that contributes to the strength of our system.”
He said the company gets to every pole over a five-year period – and that includes some areas that have underground equipment.
“It’s difficult to determine the integrity of what you can’t see, but you can make sure the terminal points above ground meet standards and expectations,” he said.
When it comes to transmission lines, he said FirstEnergy is proactive in utilizing modern technology with a fleet of helicopters that ‘fly our lines on periodic basis and use special cameras that give us insight into the integrity of the system from the air.’
Deregulation of public utilities means many home and business owners are now able to choose their service provider. What’s the benefit?
“If you live in Ohio Edison’s territory, we are responsible for the poles, wires and meters, but you can purchase the energy from any approved supplier that you desire,” DeVille said. “It drives competition and for that portion of your electric bill, which is about half, you can negotiate your best rate.”
He pointed out homeowners probably don’t have as much negotiation power as a big business, so that’s why these ‘aggregation pools’ — much like a farmers co-op – were created.
“Communities like Mt. Gilead, Edison and Cardington have already done that and, for those residents within the village limits, they are able to participate in an electric aggregation program.
The voters approved that in a ballot issue a few years ago and gave the mayors authorization to enter into the best contract they could negotiate at the time on their behalf.”
DeVille explained even if you have one of those programs available to you, you don’t have to participate.
“For instance, if you live in one of those communities and the mayor got a certain rate for the village but you got a better rate through another seller, you could be on your own,” he said. The owner of the poles, transformers and power lines is not necessarily the owner of the electricity that flows through the wires. It was much like the deregulation of ‘Ma Bell’ twenty years ago, he said, where they owned the lines but the dial tone was owned by someone else.
How can residents find out what their options are?
“At the Public Utilities Commission website (www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/) you can do the Apples to Apples comparison chart, which identifies who the current suppliers or vendors are who are offering products and their prices in your area” DeVille noted. “That service has been around for five or six years now. There’s also an Apples to Apples chart for gas service.”
DeVille pointed out that those who are served by Consolidate Electric do not have provider options, as CE is a cooperative and is exempt from that law.
FirstEnergy’s base rates have not changed since 2008 when they made a commitment they would hold their rates firm for five years. They offer an app for smartphones to download to check power outages, or residents can go to www.firstenergycorp.com/outages where they can report an outage or get information on an outage. Click on map for Ohio, which will bring up the 24 hour power center, then enter a zip code or county and the site will give information right down to the township as to what’s going on.
FirstEnergy covers the west central portion of Morrow County along with Edison, Mt Gilead, and Cardington. The electric provider shares the majority of Morrow County with Consolidate Electric and Mid-Ohio Energy Cooperative and the Ohio Power Company. In Ohio, FirstEnergy is comprised of The Illuminating Company, Ohio Edison, and Toledo Edison.
FirstEnergy also provides power in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and New York.