On Thursday, February 26th, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved the settlement filed by OPAE, the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the PUCO staff, Dominion East Ohio, and a motley crew of energy marketers, that starts to reverse efforts to deny customers the lowest natural gas prices.
Yes, this is the ‘exit the merchant function’ issue I’ve been prattling about since 2005. The newsletter has included a number of articles about this, so I’ll cut to the chase.
In 60 and 120 days, respectively, all residential and small commercial customers (>200 Mcf) will default to the Standard Choice Offer (SCO) when leaving a governmental aggregation or a bilateral contract with a marketer. Prior to this deal, these customers would default to the Market Variable Rate (MVR), which would cost between 124% and 350% of the SCO. Kind of like rolling the dice and you know you’re going to lose.
Thankfully, consumer reporters like Betty Lin-Fisher from the Akron Beacon Journal have done a fabulous job of educating residential customers on how to make the right calls to get back on the SCO. See her article summarizing the decision: https://www.beaconjournal.com/news/20200214/betty-lin-fisher-proposed-natural-gas-settlement-is-good-news
If no entity files for rehearing by March 25th, the decision goes into effect. If you are a masochist, you can read the decision here: http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/DocumentRecord.aspx?DocID=d788de3c-fab1-4236-a7a0-11e0edf1b789
Because of the way Ohio’s statutes are written, anyone can file a motion to undermine this agreement at any time. However, part of the agreement is that none of the entities involved in the case will try to change the settlement until 2024. So customers are protected from rapacious marketers…at least for a while.