September 19, 2013
The Sierra Club is launching a campaign against FirstEnergy in response to the power company’s push to change state energy-efficiency rules.
Using billboards, online ads and a petition drive, the environmental group is urging people not to do business with FirstEnergy Solutions, a FirstEnergy subsidiary that sells electricity service across the state.
“If we choose FirstEnergy Solutions as an electricity provider, we are choosing a corporation whose leadership is threatening working families’ jobs,” said Rashay Layman, a Sierra Club organizer, speaking at a Statehouse news conference yesterday.
Akron-based FirstEnergy has been leading the charge to revise state rules that set annual benchmarks for energy efficiency and renewable energy. The company has argued that the rules, passed in 2008, are too costly and will lead to higher bills for consumers.
An Ohio Senate committee has been working since last winter on a proposal that is expected to address some of FirstEnergy’s concerns. Specifics on the measure have not yet been disclosed.
In response to the Sierra Club’s campaign, the energy company noted that it has met the state’s energy-efficiency targets, including providing 150,000 kits that customers can use to reduce their bills.
“So it’s a shame this campaign could mislead customers into potentially missing out on an opportunity to reduce their bills further by switching to FirstEnergy Solutions,” Doug Colafella, a FirstEnergy spokesman, said in a statement. “We’re helping millions of Ohio customers save on their energy bill through discounted electricity supply.”
In Ohio, customers can choose a supplier for electricity. This is one of the first examples of an advocacy group urging consumers to reject a company for reasons unrelated to the price of the commodity.
Taking part in the Sierra Club’s news conference was Elizabeth Lessner, co-owner of Columbus Food League, a company that operates six restaurants and has been a supporter of energy-efficiency rules.
“It’s so frustrating to see a giant come in and squash the (energy-efficiency) efforts of my peers,” she said, and then signed the petition.