Front page news in the PD
Friday morning: Cleveland Public Power, the city-owend electric utility, has charged its customers more than $128 million in fees over the past 16 years.
The fees, which have been tacked on to statements as an "environmental adjustment," don't require City Council approval.
Former utilities director Paul Bender told the NEOMG that these fees are illegal: they dupe even the most watchful consumers, bondholders and rating agencies, and they were kept in place so that base electric rates could stay low and CPP could remain competitive with private behemoth FirstEnergy.
Current director Ivan Henderson maintains that the fees are legit. He says that the budget items paid for by the fee revenues — tree trimming, ice and snow removal, even ink cartridges — all fall within environmental subgroups.
Ink cartridges need to be disposed of in environmentally friendly ways, was his excuse to the NEOMG's Leila Atassi.
That's not passing muster with attorneys. Local law firm Landskroner Grieco Merriman LLC filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday afternoon on behalf of CPP's 80,000 customers.
"Plain and simple, this is fraud," Jack Landskroner said in a press release Thursday. "Not only did they tack on this illegal charge, they never disclosed it on customers' monthly statements."