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After a number of years of stable low prices, the price of electricity is now moving higher. Further, in a letter to its customers, FirstEnergy stated that its retail arm, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), was withdrawing from the small and mid-sized commercial market and a portion of the large commercial market. This is estimated to represent over 90% of its commercial customers.

FES has indicated that it will allow the contracts it has with these customers to expire. Please check your existing contract and understand your termination rights. Now could be the best time to proactively shop the market for new, competitive rates. As far as the general Midwest is concerned, Illinois is the only other state fully open for electric shopping. Michigan is also open but only a very small percentage of the overall electric load. The economic consequences of your electric supply contract expiring without shopping for a new rate at contract could be significant, as described in this actual, recent example:

A local manufacturing company president said his electric bill went through the roof in July and August. When he looked more closely at his bill he realized that his rate with FirstEnergy Solutions was no longer listed on his bill and that he was now back with the utility company for the supply portion of his electric bill. He had been paying utility company’s supply rates, which represented a 75% increase, for the last two months – in the middle of peak summer usage.

We are sharing this to alert you of this potential adverse economic circumstance. More importantly, we can share steps you can take to prevent such a situation:

  1. Review your most recent electric bill and your current supply rate.
  2. Identify your competitive retail supplier. The supplier’s name is listed in the bottom, right-hand side of your bill.
  3. Review the contract between your company and the supplier and determine when the contract ends. If you cannot find your contract, contact the supplier using the 800 number listed on your bill and ask them your termination date.
  4. Shop for a new competitive supplier, on your own or with a trusted broker that is certified by your Public Utilities Commission. Shop five to ten suppliers to achieve the best renewal rate and most favorable contract terms possible. The PUCO customer shopping website is http://energychoice.ohio.gov/ and we encourage customers to call the PUCO if they encounter any problems with transitioning from one supplier to another.
  5. If there is no supplier listed on your bill, then you may already be paying the utility rate.

The previous low FES rates may not be available in the market today. However, there are many alternatives to the standard utility rates. Evaluate your options and decide what works best for you. If you would like some assistance in understanding your current electricity situation and what your options are, you may contact us:

Michael W. Wise
216.430.2034
mwise@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Michael L. Snyder
216.348.5754
msnyder@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Energy Practice

Many of the attorneys in our Energy Group have spent more than a decade serving public utilities and/or oil and gas clients and therefore offer a unique perspective in understanding the legal issues currently presented in the energy industry. Our clients include public utilities, renewable energy companies, energy developers, the oil and gas industry, industrial companies and suppliers. Our Energy Practice has a multi-disciplinary approach to counseling our clients and covers litigation, governmental affairs, real estate law, environmental law, capital markets and other practice areas.

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