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Win for Librandi is best for economy: Letter to the Editor

Posted 3/11/20

The initial conclusion in the Press & Journal’s Feb. 26 editorial “Librandi electricity case could affect your rates” was accurate, but its ultimate conclusion was entirely …

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Win for Librandi is best for economy: Letter to the Editor

Posted

The initial conclusion in the Press & Journal’s Feb. 26 editorial “Librandi electricity case could affect your rates” was accurate, but its ultimate conclusion was entirely flawed.

As the editorial recognized, permitting Librandi to purchase its electricity from Met-Ed is a one-off for Middletown and will not enable other customers to choose their electric providers. However, the editorial’s conclusion that Middletown ratepayers should root against a ruling in favor of Librandi is short-sighted and misguided.

The editorial fails to address why Librandi wants to leave the Middletown borough and resume buying electricity from Met-Ed. There are several important reasons. First, however, it’s important to understand the historical background.

When Librandi built its plant in 1994, it was served by Met-Ed as it was Met-Ed who served the Harrisburg International Airport property where Librandi is located. Three years later, the borough approached Librandi and offered very low rates if Librandi would purchase its electricity from Middletown borough. Lower rates meant lower operating costs.

So, in 1997, Librandi began purchasing electricity from Middletown. But while Middletown had promised to keep its rates low, it broke that promise after only two years. In fact, Middletown raised its rates from 4 cents a kilowatt hour to 17.5 cents a kilowatt hour — a 337 percent increase! This was a classic bait and switch. Entice you with a low price and then hit you with a huge increase. The high electricity rates charged by the borough are used to fund the borough’s budget at the expense of rate payers who face uncompetitive electric rates.

Librandi wants to resume buying electricity from Met-Ed for several reasons. Paying Middletown’s high rates puts Librandi, one of the its largest employers, at a disadvantage compared to its competitors that can purchase electricity from other sources at reasonable rates.

Secondly, electricity service from Middletown is unreliable. Librandi has experienced repeated interruptions in service, which can cause a loss in production and considerable expense. Librandi also faced a critical safety issue when Middletown took more that three months to provide us with a safe and correctly sized transformer.

Third, unlike most electricity consumers in Pennsylvania, Middletown refuses to allow its customers to participate in electric choice — the “Electricity Choice and Competition Act of 1996.” Librandi’s inability to obtain competitive market rates for electricity puts it at a disadvantage compared to its competitors who get the benefit of customer choice.

In short, because of Middletown’s uncompetitive rates, Librandi’s products cost more to produce than their competitors.

Rooting for Librandi to lose its fight to purchase electricity at competitive rates is rooting to see Middletown’s largest private employer fail. If the competitive playing field is not leveled for Librandi, then the viability of Librandi’s business is at risk along with the one hundred or so valued employees who work at our plant — many of whom reside in Middletown. How short-sighted of the Press & Journal not to see that stifling Librandi’s ability to compete also stifles the economic viability and spirit of Middletown.

Tom Librandi

founder, Librandi’s Machine Shop Inc.

Born and raised in Middletown