AKRON — “The sweetheart marriage that FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. offered the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council six years ago has soured, and today NOPEC and the power supplier are at one another’s throats.
The parties are battling before Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Tammy O’Brien over fallout from failed negotiations to change their long-running contract, which impacts 500,000 customers. Those customers won’t lose power. But they could lose significant discounts – 6 percent on the price of electricity for consumers and 4 percent for small businesses – as a Jan. 1 switch to a new supplier looms.
The contract was set to run through 2019, but it gave either side options to cancel.
FirstEnergy Solutions doesn’t want to change the customer discounts, said Diane Francis, a company spokeswoman. The supplier objects, instead, to regular fees that the company agreed years ago to pay NOPEC, which is a nonprofit consortium of local governments and pro-consumer organizations.
‘We don’t pay these fees to any other (city or group of cities representing customers),’ Francis said.
‘We want to keep the discounts,’ she added.
Chuck Keiper, NOPEC’s executive director, confirmed that FirstEnergy Solutions did ask for fee reductions.
In 2010, the company was so eager to be NOPEC’s supplier that it bought out the public energy council’s contract with an out-of-state competitor and paid NOPEC cash for every customer FirstEnergy Solutions acquired in the deal.
Now, the relationship has changed.”
— John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer