Ohio utility planned to charge for light bulbs

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A plan by a Midwest utility to distribute energy-efficient light bulbs to customers backfired when it was learned that the recipients would not only have to pay for the bulbs, but also pay the utility for the electricity they wouldn't be using.

Ohio's governor sent a letter to regulators who pulled the plug on the program for now, or at least on the charges that caught consumers off guard.

FirstEnergy Ohio is promising to work with the state's Public Service Commission to settle the dustup.

Total planned charges for unsuspecting customers for two light bulbs was $21.60, though it cost only $3.50 to buy and distribute them. To make up the cost plus lost electricity sales, FirstEnergy planned to charge customers that used an average amount of electricity 60 cents a month for three years.

FirstEnergy says it will mail or hand deliver nearly 4 million bulbs over five weeks.

Other utilities have similar programs, but they usually provide coupons to customers or work with retailers to make discounts or rebates available.