New rules for PIPP+ are currently pending at ODSA and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). ODSA’s rules will cover electric PIPP, while the PUCO rules cover gas PIPP. Word is that the two sets of rules will not be completely harmoniously, though it is not clear what the differences will be.

The key issue in the rule-making is the current requirement that customers make up all missed PIPP payments before they can re-enroll in the program. This has proven to be a tremendous hardship for many of the customers. It is also inconsistent with the purpose of PIPP. As originally conceived – and I should know since OPAE was at the table – customers would receive credits for on-time payments, and any months when they couldn’t pay would be rolled into the arrearages and be eligible for future credits. The last rule-making abandoned that key principal to the detriment of our clients.

All the parties filing comments recommended eliminating the requirement to make all payments in order to remain eligible. This included the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and all the utilities. That’s a powerful coalition, and we are hoping to see a major change when the rules are finally released. Watch this space for updates.