How Does Your Utility Compare?
Under Ohio law, utilities must offer energy efficiency programs (customer’s options to lower their energy bill) to their residential, commercial, and industrial customers. These programs have been highly successful in keeping the price of electricity low. Excerpted from The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio:
- If you do not choose a supplier, your current electric utility will still provide you with electricity.
- Your electric service should not be switched without your permission. This is called “slamming,” and it is illegal.
- The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) still regulates the delivery of electricity and monitors the safety and reliability of your electric service.
- Programs to provide energy assistance for low-income residents have been enhanced with electric choice. You can apply for assistance programs with one application. Call the Ohio Development Services Agency at (800) 282-0880.
- Suppliers are required to provide you with information on their generation sources and the by-products created.
- After you sign up with an electric supplier, your local electric utility will mail you a confirmation. You have seven days from the postmark date of this notice to cancel the contract if you change your mind.
- Your local electric utility is required to include your name, address, and usage information on a list of eligible customers that is made available to other electric suppliers. Your local electric utility can tell you how to stop this information from being shared with suppliers if you do not want to be included on the list. Watch for bill inserts from your local utility.
- Electric suppliers may not discriminate based on race, sex, or any other reason.
- If an electric supplier stops supplying you with electricity for any reason, you will be returned to your local electric utility. You will not lose power.
If you feel that your rights have been violated, call the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) call center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826).
Inquiries, Disputes, and Complaints
- If you have an electric emergency (e.g. downed power line) or a complaint or inquiry regarding your bill or meter, call your local electric utility.
- If you have a complaint or inquiry regarding your electric supply contract, call your supplier.
- If your complaint or inquiry is not resolved, call the PUCO Consumer Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or TTY/TDD (800) 686-1570
Assistance may be in the form of a reduction of your heating bill and/or a set amount based on your income to be paid each month. Eligibility for these programs is usually based on household income. Below are links to a number of assistance programs. Please check with your electric supplier for any additional programs.
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
- Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus)
- Winter Crisis Program
- Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP)
- Summer Crisis Program
- HeatShare Programs
- Extended Payment Plans
- Energy Assistance for Military Personnel and their Families
How To Switch
Contact the suppliers that you are most interested in and ask the questions listed below. Once you have decided on a supplier, contact that supplier directly to confirm the offer and learn how to sign up. You do not need to call your local electric utility.
- What are you doing to promote increased energy efficiency?
- Is the price fixed or is it variable?
- If it is a variable price, how does it change?
- Are there any built-in price increases or decreases?
- Does the price depend on how much electricity I use or when I use it?
- How long is the contract for that rate?
- What happens when my contract expires?
- Do you charge any cancellation fees?
- Can I stay on budget billing with my electric company?
- Do you offer budget billing for your part of the bill?
- Will there be switching, membership, or other fees?
- Are there any deposit requirements?
- Will I receive one or two bills a month?
- What sources are used to produce the electricity?
- Is there a customer incentive for signing up?
- How long does it take to switch?
Terms and Conditions
Most electric suppliers will ask you to sign a contract. The supplier may provide you with a contract in person or by mail. You also may be able to sign up by telephone or on the Internet. Before signing any contract, make sure you read and understand all the terms and conditions such as how long you will have to buy electricity from the supplier, what types of fees there are, and how you will be billed. Only give out your account number when you are ready to sign.
After you sign up, your new supplier will contact your current utility for you. Your utility will then mail you a confirmation. You have seven days from the postmark date on the confirmation to cancel the contract if you change your mind.
(Source: The Public Utiities Commission of Ohio http://www.puco.ohio.gov/)