May 24, 2023 - News

Why FirstEnergy customers will see big electric bills this summer

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The 45,000 Cleveland households that get their electric power from FirstEnergy are in for a summer of headaches and high prices.

The big picture: Due to increased per-kilowatt-hour energy costs, many customers will see their bills increase by nearly 50%.

Driving the news: Cleveland City Council on Monday authorized an electric power aggregation contract with the Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC), which allows the city to offer residents a lower rate.

Yes, but: New rates won't take effect until August, which means FirstEnergy customers may see some eye-popping figures during the next two billing cycles.

How it works: Customers have two choices, as outlined by councilman Charles Slife.

  • They can do nothing and pay higher bills before the new rates come into effect.
  • Or they can shop for a new energy supplier on the open market, which could yield significant savings this summer but would require time and attention and additional action down the road to return to FirstEnergy.

Be smart: The next billing cycle begins Saturday, so customers would have to lock in their new supplier this week.

Of note: The price hikes will not affect Cleveland Public Power customers or residents of suburban communities who already belong to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) or other aggregators.

Between the lines: A number of council members criticized the Bibb administration for dragging its feet.

What they're saying: In a press release last week, council noted that Cleveland withdrew from NOPEC last summer.

  • "To have a seamless transition in selecting a new energy aggregator, the mayor's administration should have started searching for a new one before January 2023," the statement read.

Councilman Brian Kazy, who chairs council's utilities committee, told Axios that the Office of Sustainability didn't issue a request for proposals until April. He says he still hasn't gotten a satisfactory explanation for the delay.

  • "They really did screw this up," he said.

The other side: A Bibb spokesperson said the administration regretted the timing of the RFP but that it was ultimately successful in selecting a competitively priced program.

  • "We look forward to working with city council members during the next few weeks to ensure residents have the program in place by August."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more