Customers of electric Co-Ops are treated unfairly

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I was reading an article in the Ohio Rural Electric Co-Op’s publication for April.

The author, Steve Oden, was commenting on whether electric consumers will be able to afford their electric bills in the coming years.

As a member of Buckeye Rural Electric Co-Op, and many others as well, I do not have the same rights as someone who is a customer of a non-Co-Op electric company, such as American Electric Power (AEP).

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Isn’t it true that a customer of AEP can be on a budget plan or percentage of payment plan? As long as the customer of AEP makes regular payments, their electric is not disconnected.

On the other hand, a member of an electric Co-Op has no options. If we do not pay the full amount owed, our electric is disconnected. As a Co-Op member, we can’t make budget payments.

What I am saying is why don’t Co-Op members have the same rights as non-Co-Op members? I have several neighbors complaining that their electric has been disconnected and they owed as little as $15.

My family members who are customers of AEP have an average monthly bill less than $40. On the other hand, a customer of a rural Co-Op for the exact same usage would pay no less than $125.

Getting back to Oden, he talks about climate change legislation. Senate Bill 2191, the Liebermann-Warner Climate Security Act, would raise a typical household’s energy bill by $90 to more than $160 per month.

That amount would be for a customer of a non-Co-Op electric company. That mean a Co-Op members electric bill would probably increase the amount two-fold.

If the customers of Buckeye Rural cannot pay their bills at the current rate, I can only imagine how many customers would lose their service. Everyone I know who is using BREC would not have any electric.

This is unfair to the customers who cannot have electric service that is regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. Co-Ops may buy electric from non-Co-Ops and pass the extra expense on to the consumer. If they can buy electric from a non-Co-Op, why do the Co-Op members have to pay the entire bill without being able to be on a budget plan?

I would like to suggest that a person start a petition that allows Co-Op electric customers to make payment arrangements on their electric bills and be able to keep their electric on, as well as budget payments.


Willow Wood