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CPP customers question adjustment charge as lawsuit looms

CPP class-action lawsuit set for trial on July 25
CPP customers question adjustment charge as lawsuit looms
Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 23:13:39-04

CLEVELAND — Steven Vecker of Cleveland has been dealing with major questions about the energy adjustment charge on his Cleveland Public Power bill for years.

Vecker told News 5 he's always wondered what the charge was all about but said each time he calls CPP to get a breakdown of the charges and get an explanation he's left with more questions than answers.

It's a charge that is under fire in an ongoing class-action lawsuit filed nearly seven years ago, which alleges that buried in the energy adjustment charge is an environmental charge that is in violation of Cleveland city ordinance.

CPP customers question adjustment charge as lawsuit looms
Steven Vecker of Cleveland questions the energy adjustment charged on his CPP bill.

“When I called customer service, she just sort of flubbed it off, well that’s just an extra charge that we have, so what could I say," Vecker said. “I don’t get it, doesn’t seem right does it. When you look at my bill and then we travel down here and there’s this other charge, what is it called energy adjustment charge, it's more than what I’m paying for the actual wattage or the electric.”

Class-action lawsuit attorney Tom Merriman, with Merriman Legal, told News 5 the case against CPP is set for a jury trial in Cuyahoga County Court on July 25. Merriman said the lawsuit claims CPP over-charged consumers some $130-million, allegedly using what the lawsuit claims are a hidden charge. The lawsuit is asking that CPP pay back millions to some 70,000 of its customers.

“We’ve been at this for almost seven years now," Merriman said. “It’s called an environmental adjustment and it’s buried inside another item on your bill called an energy adjustment. So the consumer has no idea they’re being charged this fee.”

"It’s illegal, it violates city ordinance. The environmental adjustment was supposed to be about passing along the cost of complying with environmental regulations. The city has admitted none of this money has gone to comply with environmental regulation.”

“When you have two appellate courts that said this charge violates your own ordinance, a legit business stops the practice, Mayor Bibb has a great opportunity here to just stop charging this hidden fee to people.”

Cleveland Public Power responded immediately to our story and explained the energy adjustment charge is "the charge by which CPP recovers costs incurred by the purchase of electric power that CPP sells to its customers."

But when News 5 issued a follow-up question concerning allegations that an environmental charge is buried with the energy adjustment charge, CPP did not deny the allegations. CPP simply issued a statement saying "Cleveland Public Power has no comment on this request as it is part of ongoing litigation."

News 5 asked the same questions to the office of Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, but we're still waiting for a response.

Cleveland Councilman Brian Kazy, who is also the Chairman of the Cleveland Utilities Committee, told News 5 CPP will be the subject of a facilities-wide evaluation this summer and said the energy adjustment charge will be part of that evaluation.

Meanwhile, consumers like Steven Vecker can only hope they'll have more answers about the CPP energy adjustment charge in the coming months.

"Why pay more than you have to, especially with energy costs which are gasoline, natural gas, and your groceries, we don’t need any extra charges they shouldn’t be charging us,” Vecker said. "Let's check into this, and if we've got money coming back, let’s straighten this out, we should be getting money back or change the rate on it or something, let’s do it.”