Elect people to stand up to monopoly

DEAR EDITOR:

Money is being needlessly removed from your wallet daily, and it is being done under a legal contract filed with the state of Ohio. It is being done through street lighting.

Over the last 30 years, radical changes in lighting have resulted in new LED lights that use 70 percent less electricity than old incandescent light bulbs.

However, through a decades old “Tariff” (Monopoly) agreement between government and First Energy, the cost of street lighting is set.

The tariff offers virtually no opportunity for any city or county to change to LED lighting, regardless of the cost savings. Virtually every government in America is covered by some sort of street lighting agreement with their public or privately held utility and most of them do not allow changing to LED lights.

Warren pays First Energy more than $500,000 per year to use old street lights. With LEDs, the cost of electricity for Warren streetlights could drop $300,000 per year, and lighting would last much longer. This number dramatically increases if you consider that every property tax payer in Trumbull County (except Mespotamia) pays 1 mill in taxes that are used, in part, to pay for street lighting and generally poor maintenance. We pay for lights not functioning. A 2014 Toledo study showed 27 percent were not functioning but still being paid for.

Countywide savings will be astounding. Add Cleveland, Youngstown, Toledo, Columbus and the money First Energy is taking is incredible.

Worse, city streetlights do not get Energy Choice, the opportunity to buy electricity at the lowest rate. First Energy gets paid for both electricity and cost of transmission. If Warren could choose the low-cost energy provider and LED bulbs, we will save more.

The up-front cost to change the lights to LED might be high, but an example of success is Detroit, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2015 in part by saving millions in street lighting with LEDs.

The Western Reserve Port Authority has funds and ability to float municipal bonds to be paid off from the savings in 5 to 6 years.

We need to push for lighting savings allowing us to pave miles of roads or hire police. Our legislators must stop taking campaign contributions from a monopoly. We need to complain when a monopoly spends over $100 million dollars to name a stadium, keep a loge and give tickets to employees or suppliers, and revolt when we see TV promotional ads costing millions.

We need to tell our legislators to not bail out this monopoly that sold off all their high-efficient power generation plants, but want to make us pay for them to keep their expensive nuclear plants and street lights. Consider: First Energy has bloated corporate leadership including a CEO, 12 presidents, 8 senior VPs and more. All that executive brain power and they still teeter on bankruptcy.

Tell your legislators, and support those running for Warren council like Ken McPherson and Greg Greathouse to stand up to First Energy.

We need innovative and gutsy people to stand up and point out this blatant waste.

DAN CROUSE

Warren

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