Do you ever feel as if you're aiming at a moving target? When it comes to the electric utility market, it certainly feels that way for us at the city currently.
Just as our new, nine-month program with FirstEnergy Solutions is transitioning from the enrollment period to implementation, AEP Energy (formerly AEP Retail Energy) is embarking on an aggressive marketing campaign to retain UA customers who were with our first program.
Late last week, we were informed by representatives of AEP Energy that eligible households would be receiving a "Welcome Back" mailing that will likely arrive early next week. The rate being offered by AEP Energy is 7.79 cents per kWh for a period of 15 months, ostensibly beating the city's program rate of 7.84 cents per kWh for a period of nine months. If you do the math, while AEP Energy's offer is indeed a better rate, the savings are minimal -- just 50 cents per month for the average residential customer, or $4.50 over the life of the FirstEnergy nine-month contract.
AEP Energy states in its correspondence with the city that it is able to offer this better rate because market prices have shifted lower since we solicited bids from providers in the spring. As always, we encourage UA's electric customers to take a look at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio "Apples to Apples" chart on electric provider pricing and draw your own conclusions.
In response to this latest development, we have reached out to FirstEnergy Solutions to gauge any interest on their part to match or beat the latest offer from AEP Energy. An initial response indicates a willingness on FirstEnergy's part to work with the city on a viable option, but at the time of writing this column, details were yet to be finalized, so watch for additional word.
If you thought your decision-making was behind you on your choice of electricity utility provider for the coming months, our sincere apologies for the current situation and the additional correspondence you are receiving.
A few points to remember as you make your determination:
• If you do choose to stick with the city's program for now, you are free to leave it for another provider or to return to the regular AEP Ohio utility at any time without penalty.
• Regardless of whether you are in a program provided through the city or another provider, the terms of your agreement must be honored by that provider.
• Also, regardless of which program you participate in, your electricity is supplied through the same supply lines and you still receive your monthly electric bill from AEP Ohio, so be assured you have no worries that your actual supply of this vital resource may be impacted.
We have additional details available at uaoh.net under the "Headlines" section of our homepage. If you would like to speak with someone to have your concerns addressed, the number to call at FirstEnergy Solutions for customer service is 866-636-3749. To speak with a city representative, call 614-583-5040.
Earlier in the summer, I hosted two community coffees at different locations in the city, and I was delighted to meet with a number of residents who engaged me in lively conversations on community issues.
Two more opportunities to meet with me in this format are set in the coming days:
• 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 13, at South of Lane Cafe, 1987 Guilford Road.
• 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the Starbucks on Henderson Road.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.