Ohio regulators to probe submetering companies reselling energy in apartments, condos
- The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week voted to open an investigation into "submetering" companies, which resell energy produced by regulated utilities in apartments or other multi-dwelling buildings, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
- Customers of submetering companies were paying between 5% and 40% more than the regulated cost of electricity, the news outlet found.
- The PUCO probe is a result of a Columbus man's claim he is being overcharged for utilities by Nationwide Energy Partners. That complaint is on hold while regulators complete a broader investigation.
Submetering companies supplying electricity should be regulated just as are utilities, according to Columbus resident Mark Whitt, who filed a complaint with the PUCO. “A fair, transparent investigation is going to leave the commission shocked and embarrassed that it didn’t do something sooner to rein in the abusive practices of NEP and companies like it,” Whitt told the Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio law allows the resell of electricity and water by companies operating in apartments and condos. Regulators have put Whitt's complaint on hold while they investigate the submetering practice.
The commission also ordered that competitive retail electric service (CRES) customer contracts must be more transparent and straightforward by better defining the terms and conditions of fixed-rate offers. Last winter, regulators received complaints that CRES providers included additional charges on customer’s bills, despite being enrolled in a fixed-rate contract.
“Our action today will provide consumers greater clarity in how they pay for electricity,” PUCO Chairman Andre Porter said in a statement. “The expectation is simple — fixed means fixed.”
Beginning January 1, an offer marketed as a fixed-rate should "not include in its terms and conditions any mechanism that allows unforeseen charges incurred by the CRES provider to pass-through to customers," the commission said.
Those offers will instead be labeled as "variable- or introductory-rate."
- The Columbus Dispatch PUCO to probe companies that resell utilities
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