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Ohio schools object to FirstEnergy plan

CLEVELAND, Nov. 20, 2008 (AP): A halt to the 13.4 percent electricity rate discount given to 249 public school districts in Ohio could mean nearly $12 million in additional annual costs, school leaders have told the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The Ohio Schools Council, a buying cooperative for 123 districts in northern Ohio, detailed the cost at PUCO meetings on a proposed rate change sought by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., which wants to eliminate the discounts.

A utility spokeswoman, Ellen Raines, said Thursday the discounted rates don't cover the cost of providing electricity.

``Traditionally, the schools have had very heavily discounted electric rates,'' she said. ``We have to bring our revenue more in line with our costs, just as everybody else does.''

The Cleveland district, which negotiated its own deal, said the loss of its discount would increase its electric bill by $4 million. Cleveland schools CEO Eugene Sanders said the company's plan was an injustice because it would lead to more budget cuts.

Lawyers for the school district have asked the PUCO to freeze the district's present rate until the two sides negotiate a new deal or the commission sets the amount.

The commission is expected to approve a new three-year rate structure for FirstEnergy by Dec. 31.

The Cleveland schools, which spend about $5.6 million a year for electricity, get 40 percent off, according to Raines. She said the district can seek relief from the commission after it approves a rate plan for the company's 2 million Ohio customers.

On the Net: Ohio Schools Council: http://www.osconline.org
FirstEnergy: http://www.firstenergycorp.com






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