About a week ago I attended avery informative Town Hall meeting for the residents of Ashtabula County, Ohio. The meeting was regarding the recent electric rate hikes. After encouraging residents to build ALL ELECTRIC homes by offering a discount which was supposed to last for as long as they owned the home, it seems that our wonderful electric provider has changed their minds. Now everyone will pay the same rate regardless of your heating source.
Now I'm not one for giving any one something for nothing, however it was very disturbing to hear just how much Ashtabula residents, especially those in the rural areas have been affected by this. They've adjusted their thermostats, they've added insulation, installed new windows, and still are paying more and more for electricity. In some cases their electric bills are more than their mortgage payments! One residents bill had more than tripled and this was after he had taken measures to conserve and winterize his home! All this due to deregulation.
I showed homes recently to my buyers. Everything went very well--they loved the home. This was the one for them, had to have it. That was UNTIL. Until they saw the electric furnace. They asked me about the cost of heating with electricity, so of course I had to make them aware of the current rate hike. Needless to say, they were done with the little house. I can't say as I blame them. I would have felt the same way.
Where does this leave us now in Ashtabula County? How will we sell homes that come with electric bills that can be well over $900 per month? Will we have a whole new set of homes that sit? Will they join all the other houses--foreclosures--that are currently cluttering our market? Will there be even more foreclosures since electric bill can now top out higher than a mortgage payment??? This electric hike comes at a very poor time. Especially since our economy and our housing market is soooo sluggish.
Representative Tim Grendell has filed a Class Action Suit against the electric provider here in Northeastern Ohio. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this situation.