Just say no.
Go outside and look at your electric meter. You are responsible for some components of your electric service connection. The utility is responsible for the meter components and any underground service lines. You are responsible for maintaining the rest. Is your service drop overhead, or underground? Read the fine print:
The meter that measures the amount of electricity used, any underground service entrance conductor, and the meter base (materials only) are not covered under this plan, but are covered by your local FirstEnergy Company. Your local FirstEnergy Company will supply the materials to repair or replace the meter base...
Why would you want to give a bunch of money to the utility for "insurance" against an unusual problem that only costs a couple hundred bucks to fix? It doesn't say "stupid" on my forehead. Oh, but wait! If you sign up you will receive a "special" phone number to call to get your service. If you remember what you did with that phone number and the rest of your paperwork when you have an outdoor electrical line issue, then you could avoid the hassles of looking for an electrician in the yellow pages and "waiting" for service (because service dispatched through Akron, Ohio, is much quicker than calling an electrician in your own town).
Sounds like a scam to me!
So, I've been a Potomac Edison (or Allegheny Power, when that name suited them) customer for nearly 30 years. How come I'm just now being bombarded with these junk mailers? Because the West Virginia PSC recently sold me out to the company, going against the advice of its own Staff, the Consumer Advocate Division, and the findings of one of its own Administrative Law Judges.
Say what? Take a look at WV PSC Case No. 13-0021-E-PC (look up "Case Information" here). Two years ago, FirstEnergy asked the PSC for permission for its two West Virginia distribution companies (Potomac Edison and Mon Power) to market these useless "services" and products to their customers and to add the cost of any purchases to the customer's electric bill.
The Staff of the PSC and the Consumer Advocate objected to FirstEnergy's plan, which, in addition to the "Exterior Electrical Line Protection Plan," will soon be offering you:
1. Other Home Solutions maintenance and repair plans (i.e. insurance) for other appliances you own, your natural gas service lines and even your plumbing.
2. Surge suppression service (which they already separately offer as part of their regulated service activity in West Virginia).
3. Customer Electrical Services Program that allows your electric company to "arrange" electrical service work to be performed in your home. You still pay for all the work they do, your monthly fee just alleviates your "hassle" of finding your own electrician and negotiating a reasonable fee for service with him.
4. Online store - where you can buy all sorts of useless crap and energy-wasting space heaters, and pay for it all on your monthly electric bill.
A hearing was held, and the PSC's Administrative Law Judge recommended that the Commission prohibit this kind of promotion. However, FirstEnergy didn't like that decision, so they filed exceptions to the Judge's Order and the Commission disregarded it and made a new finding that FirstEnergy could continue to promote these useless "services."
Remember, none of these services are regulated, so if you have an issue with service or billing of these add-ons, the PSC can't help you. You're on your own to solve the problem with the company (and it's not even the utility you'll be fighting with, but some third-party "insurance company") or through the court system.
So, how much money does FirstEnergy make off these products? Is the company really that desperate that it needs to peddle space heaters and worthless "insurance" to its customers? It's not about the few pennies in kickbacks FirstEnergy receives from these third-party companies for selling you a "service," it's about the half a million bucks FirstEnergy was paid by one of these third-party companies for "licensing rights and utility bill access fees" to access Potomac Edison's or Mon Power's customer records and to have your utility bill you for their services. FirstEnergy is essentially selling an asset -- its customer base and monthly billing system -- to a private company that hopes to make money selling things to the customer base. There is a commercial value to a customer base of 500,000 customers. When the customer base is acquired through a regulated monopoly, should the utility be able to sell it for private profit? Your WV Public Service Commission says they can.
Tell your legislators to ask the PSC why they have allowed Potomac Edison and Mon Power to sell you out like that. And think twice about jacking up your monthly electric bills with "insurance" you'll probably never need and overpriced lightbulbs from FirstEnergy's online store.
And want to have some fun right now? All those junk mailers they're sending you have postage paid return envelopes to "Plan Administrator." The envelope instructs: "Include only your form and nothing else." If you don't sign up for the plan, you won't need a "form," so go ahead and stuff them with "nothing else" or whatever you want and return them. See how much scrap paper you can fit into the envelope! Or perhaps your child would like to draw a picture for "Plan Administrator?" Go ahead, have some fun!
And then, get serious. The fine print instructs:
If you would prefer not to receive these solicitation from HomeServe, please call 1-888-866-2127.