By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
County residents may have received a letter recently from the Mercer County Commissioners suggesting a possible cost-savings on their power bills by switching energy providers, but the three-man board insists it isn’t advertising for FirstEnergy Solutions but rather trying to help constituents save money.
Chairman John Lechner said the county lent its endorsement to FirstEnergy Services by allowing the supplier to use one sheet of county letterhead and by affixing their signatures to it. “I thought it was a good deal. I know I signed up myself for it. They asked us if they could use our letterhead, and we talked about it and we allowed it. And it was at absolutely no cost to the county, save for one piece of paper,” he said.
A small number of people, probably about 20, Lechner said, have called, e-mailed or stopped in to complain about the commissioners promoting the business. “But overall, after speaking with the company, they said about 572 people have taken advantage of the program that will allow them to reduce their electric bill, so if people don’t want to take advantage of it, they certainly aren’t required to. We simply wanted to pass the information along,” he said.
FirstEnergy Solutions has said it would make a “modest” contribution to the county and the residents’ municipality for each resident that enrolls. The company’s brochure, enclosed with the letter from the commissioners, touts a cost savings per kilowatt hour from that being offered by Penn Power.
Residents can enroll for an 18- or 36-month option, and at the end of that period, can return to Penn Power or renegotiate a renewal price with FirstEnergy Solutions, Commissioner Matt McConnell said.
The letter mailed to residents said the offer is valid only for “eligible residential customers of Penn Power.” A comparison paragraph in the letter says the rate would drop from 7.10 cents per kilowatt hour to 5.40 cents through June 2016. There is no cost to join, but the deadline to enroll is Sept. 30. Residents who are interested can go online to fes.com/MercerCo. or call 866-626-5786.
Also at Wednesday’s work session, Fiscal Administrator John Logan said he hopes commissioners can hire an assistant director for his office, as work is under way on the 2014 budget and he would like to have a “full complement” of staff as he begins that process.
The commissioners may fill that position at today’s 10 a.m. meeting in the assembly room of the courthouse.