Lakewood, Ohio - First Energy sign now

Power outages are more than a mere inconvenience. As an economist, outages not only severely affect every aspect of our lives, but have a profound effect on keeping a stable economy. Businesses cannot operate and people are less effective at their jobs due to stress and sleep loss. With this, the basic functions of producing and consuming are threatened. The elderly, ill people and children are at heath risk because their medical equipment cannot be used, the lack of fan or air conditioning causes heat illness, and medication (such as insulin) cannot be stored. Illness or death due to these issues takes valuable labor out of out economy. Any utility that a person receives through using and consuming products which use power is lost. Food goes bad due to lack of refrigeration, which can add up to hundreds of dollars in loss. Without lights at night, crime becomes more of a problem and peoples safety is at risk. Furthermore without power, traffic signals and streets lights are out increasing the chances of car accidents. Reliable and safe power is not just a simple commodity, it's a complete necessity. Without it, our lives as well as our economy come to a halt.

First energy claims that heat is causing equipment to fail which leads to outages. As we know, 90 degree temperatures in Ohio are common, and their equipment should be able to handle any heat. The only reason a power outages should occur is if a power line goes down due to a storm. When that happens only local outages should occur where the lines are affected. There are no excuses for massive city wide blackouts, such as what we have experienced both in 2005 and 2003.

From an economic standpoint, we need to provide an incentive for power companies like First Energy to keep the power on during stable environmental conditions (such as what we experienced). As we have explained, with frequent outages, we see that its not only troubles people from a convenience standpoint, but it threatens our very livelihood and economy.

Obviously, the little money we dont end up paying on our bills because of lost electricity is not enough of an incentive for them to do a proper job. There is a major economic efficiency loss when the power goes out and that far outweighs the few dollars we save on the electric bill. For example, lets say a family with a $100 power bill loses their power for two days. The family would save $7, but on the other end, we have a loss of productivity, loss of food (which alone could easily be $100), plus added health, safety, and crime risk. While we cannot put a price on what the family has lost, its obvious that the combined losses of the family far outweighs any loss by the power company

Since they in effect have a monopoly in the power service market, there is no natural competition and we the people have no choice but to accept the efficiency losses. This is where a government and law must come in and act to ensure maximum efficiency.

Based on these statements, we propose that the government enacts a heavy fine every time the power goes out due to the power company neglect. Storms are understandable, but as explained above, summer heat is no excuse. This would give more of an incentive to keep the power on, because currently, they have no incentive. Even if it means that they must heavily invest in new or better service and equipment, keeping the power on means no efficiency loses. What the fine should be would be debatable, since we cant put a price on peoples personal losses during an outage. It should be enough that if there is a major outage, the power company experiences a significant loss. This will make sure the incentive is out there for them to do the right job.

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Amelia BeasleyBy:
People and OrganizationsIn:
Petition target:
Ohio State Congress

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