CLEVELAND — As the calendar moves closer to the start of June, Cleveland City Council is urging Mayor Justin Bibb to be proactive in assisting FirstEnergy customers before their rates increase.
In a statement released on Friday, council called on the Bibb administration to explain the "unnecessary delay" in selecting an electric aggregator and communicate what FirstEnergy customers can do to prevent their bills from seeing a sharp increase over the next few months.
Earlier this year, FirstEnergy announced that on June 1, the standard service offer (SSO), often referred to as the "price to compare," will be increasing for those customers who utilize Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and The Illuminating Company. Those customers who are contracted with an alternate supplier or government aggregator will not be affected.
Council believes that the Bibb administration should have worked faster in securing an alternative aggregator.
“At the request of the mayor’s administration in July 2022, Cleveland City Council granted authorization for the City to withdraw from our past energy aggregator, NOPEC," noted Ward 16 Councilman Brian Kazy, who is the chair of the Utilities Committee. "To have a seamless transition in selecting a new energy aggregator for Clevelanders, the mayor’s administration should have started searching for a new one before January 2023."
Instead, Kazy says the city's Office of Sustainability did not issue a request for proposal until April of this year. He adds that the lapse "will create higher energy bills for thousands of Cleveland’s FirstEnergy customers."
The city is proposing to partner with the Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) electric aggregation program. However, it would not take effect until the August 2023 billing cycle. The city presented details of SOPEC's program to the Utilities Committee on Thursday.
While council and city leaders review the SOPEC proposal, residents are being directed to the Sustainable Cleveland "Community Choice Aggregation" page. It features answers to frequently asked questions as well as information on third-party options.
The council notes that Cleveland Public Power and FirstEnergy customers enrolled in a "Percentage of Income Payment Plan" or PIPP, will not be impacted by the city's delay in selecting a new energy aggregator.
"We look forward to hearing from the administration on how they will help protect the finances of Clevelanders," Kazy added.