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The Sound of Ideas

Reporters’ Roundtable

Posted Thursday, October 8, 2009

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After a recent botched execution, Governor Strickland puts a momentary moratorium on the death penalty. Meanwhile, the Ohio House votes to expand mandatory death sentences. Also this week, a GOP giant who got his start in Cuyahoga County politics endorses the plan for a County Executive, while Cleveland City Council leadership splits over their endorsement. Thursday morning at 9, we'll talk about those stories, and the not-so-free fluorescent light bulbs First Energy is hand-delivering to customers.


Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Government/Politics, Other, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement


Joe Frolik The Plain Dealer
Jay Miller Crain's Cleveland Business
Jim Siegel Columbus Dispatch

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Sal 8:33 AM 10/8/09

I agree with teh lady who called about the short lifetime of CFLs. My CFLs, especially the twisters, last anywhere between 1 to 2 years - not the 5 to 7 guaranteed by the manufaturers (GE, Phillips, Bright Effects etc.). I have been keeping data on all my replacements - so, I do have proof. These bulbs are all made in China and they were bought from Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes. In all cases, the failure occurred by browning of the bulbs, where a chocolate colored coating forms on the inside of bulb. On two occasions, I saw smoke come out and I noticed that the glass had cracked at the base. Clearly, the bulbs are not being manufactured properly.

julie from Cleveland 8:34 AM 10/8/09

I think the lightbulb idea was a horrible idea.  If first energy wants to get everyone to use these lightbulbs, they should send a voucher in the mail to purchase them on our own.  I already use compact lightbulbs and do not want to pay their price.  I also started using them to decrease my energy bills, now they are going to charge me more to use less enegy?!?  The worst part about it is, that there seems to be nothing that we as consumers can do about it.

DP 8:40 AM 10/8/09

What about LED lights - they don’t have the contamination issues of compact fluorescents? WHy doesn’t First Energy promote them?

Mary Ann 9:10 AM 10/8/09

Your guest from First Energy stated there was a “mandate” to reduce the use of electricity, thus the light bulb program.  However, there is not any way to FORCE people to use these bulbs unless there is also a plan for the “lightbulb police” to visit every home to check every light bulb.  I already use CFLs in the majority of my lamps, but I certainly didn’t pay $10.50 for them.

Joan 3:24 PM 10/8/09

Comments on Lightbulb Program:

1.  It penalizes those who have already purchased new lightbulbs and should not need more.  I am a senior.  My electric bill is currently around $20 per month.  Why would I want an additional charge of that amount for something I do not need?

2.  Coupons would be much cheaper and more reliable to distribute than lightbulbs.  I am not likely to receive these fragile bulbs in good condition, if at all, at my apartment if they are left by my mailbox.  For snowbirds, coupons with no expiration date and included in the envelope my bill comes in would make it possible to buy the bulbs when returning next spring.

3.  As for the new “bulbs,” themselves:

Some of mine need at least a minute to work up to full light (they are dim at first).
Several have gone out in less than a year.
The print on receipts for possible return to the store fade before the guarantee does.
I would have to pay to make a copy of each receipt that would not fade, so this is not a practical solution.
I hear it is not safe (a fire hazard) to use the new lights with a rheostat.  What can I use for this?

Is anybody listening?  Thank you.  Joan Robertson

Michael 3:25 PM 10/8/09

In the late 1980’s Massachusetts, where I hail from, encouraged the Boston area electric utility to subsidize low energy light bulbs and distribute them to their customers. Massachusetts tightly regulated their utilities, much tighter than Ohio in my experience. The electric utility wanted to raise rates. The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) wanted to promote conservation so that another generating plant, especially nuclear (or nucular), would not need to be built. The resulting agreement was that for every amount that was saved by conservation, the utility could raise their rates equivalently. At that time the bulbs were made by Panasonic and Osram (Hungary). They cost about $18 for a 60 watt equivalent bulb and were offered to customers for $5.  I bought enough to bulbs for my entire apartment and reduced my electric bill by 50% since most of my costs as a single person was lighting. Within a year the Lions club in the Cambridge-Somerville area started offering higher wattage equivalent bulbs for a $1. I still have most of those bulbs. They work just fine after all these years. However I have since moved them to the basement and have purchased newer bulbs all about the house, excepting for dimming light fixtures. I have purchased most of them from Home Depot; they had the best prices and selection for me. The reason I tell you this is because I have had a very few fail prematurely and when I did, they replaced them no questions asked - even after several years and with no receipt. I had purchased a bulb capable of diming and when it burned out a year later, they told me had problems with the bulbs that could dim, stopped selling them and refunded my money.

The primary problem with those early bulbs was that they had a long power up time, flashing in the process, much like the large fluorescents in businesses at the time. Further they were large and were not available in stronger wattages - as far as I knew. Most of the newest bulbs light immediately, are available in different shapes and much higher lumens. My biggest electric costs these days are from the electronics.

Regarding your conversation with the first energy rep:

I have said that electricity dereg has produced electric choice the equivalent of a Soviet election: First Energy, First Energy and First Energy. My thought is that the only solution to necessary competition for First Energy is to promote wind or solar and use First Energy as a last resource during times that those are lacking. There is a new web site that can locate your house and determine if your home will support solar. The problem for me is the payback time for the investment is 22 years and the life of the cells is 25. I spoke to people near the Portage Lakes and they have a constant wind that could support a wind turbine that could light several homes.

How about a show on state subsidy for installing wind and solar?

Michael Klein
Highland Sq.
Akron, OH

Dawn 3:26 PM 10/8/09

What other business could FORCE you to buy a product you don’t want if you want to buy a different product they sell in a monopoly situation?  Outrageous, but typical First Energy protect the shareholders, screw the customers business as usual.

I’m a massage therapist, maybe I’ll start charging my customers for tubes of analgesic balm they don’t want.  Oops, I don’t have a monopoly so guess I’m out of luck.

thanks for your story WCPN.  Keep up the good work.



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