Electric utility may give green option: Renewable energy plan carries fee at FirstEnergy

OHIO - FirstEnergy Corp. customers who are willing to pay a premium to be environmentally friendly might have the opportunity by early summer.

FirstEnergy, the Ohio Consumers' Counsel and staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio worked together on the proposed "Green Pricing Option," which still needs PUCO approval. If approved, FirstEnergy customers would be able to pay an extra amount, estimated at $5 a month for 200 kilowatt hours, to have the utility buy renewable energy certificates.

That would not mean that customers would literally get the green energy at their homes, but their money would help add green-based kilowatt hours on the grid, said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Ellen Raines. If approved, the green-based energy offering would satisfy orders by the Ohio Supreme Court that the Akron-based utility come up with alternative market-based rates for electricity prices as part of its rate stabilization plan.

The Ohio Consumers' Counsel, the state's residential utility advocate, had appealed the utility's plan to the state supreme court. FirstEnergy's green plan is very similar to a plan that was approved by the PUCO for AEP recently, said PUCO spokeswoman Shana Eiselstein. The green option gives FirstEnergy customers an alternative, said Ryan Lippe, spokesman for the Ohio Consumers' Counsel.

"FirstEnergy customers can pay a little bit more and make a difference," he said. Customers who sign up for the program could buy a minimum of 200 kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits each month. The company would actually go out and buy the renewable credits, which could cost about $5 a month for 200 kwh.

Customers could choose to purchase more. The average residential customer uses 850 kilowatts of electricity. Green energy could come from a variety of 15 options, including wind, solar photo voltaic, hydro and landfill gas. Raines said FirstEnergy has some wind power in its portfolio, but customers don't pay an extra premium for it.


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