The ongoing battle between FirstEnergy Corp. and its customer base of 300,000 has hit a new level, sending the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.
According to the news source, the court recently heard arguments from both representatives from FirstEnergy and consumers, that latter of which say they have the right to file a lawsuit against the utility. The outrage stems from a decision to increase electricity rates in 2011, which was approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
The higher rates will be in place until October 31, 2013, after which they will be slowly reduced through 2018. PUCO allowed certain discounts on the delivery for high-consumption customers, and these rates will continue until a new rate case is filed with the regulator.
The consumers claim that FirstEnergy's decision to end discounted rates after 35 years of using the program has ultimately lowered the value of their homes.
However, Ohio's energy deregulation laws do allow customers to switch energy providers if a more attractive option become available, which thousands of customers – once with the state's largest utilities – have already done.