The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) regulates providers of utility services in the state of Ohio as a consumer protector. PUCO oversees electric and natural gas companies, plus local and long distance telephone companies, water and wastewater companies, and rail and trucking companies.
Ohio electricity deregulation has been in place since 2001. So why, if it’s deregulated, is there still a need for a regulatory agency? Great question, and we’re going to answer it.
What are the Responsibilities of PUCO?
The PUCO has 5 main responsibilities:
- Ensure that all Certified Retail Electric Suppliers (CRES) and Certified Gas Suppliers behave responsibly, and in the best interests of Ohio citizens.
- Help you resolve any disputes between you and your natural gas or electric supplier, if you can’t resolve the consumer complaint with them directly.
- Ensure that the Ohio electricity grid and natural gas delivery system in Ohio provide safe and reliable services to all consumers.
- Regulate rates. Yes, in deregulation, there’s still regulation! The PUCO approves rates for utilities in areas of Ohio that don’t have natural gas or electricity deregulation. They also review and approve delivery rates and “standard service offer rates” (SSO) for each deregulated electricity utility.
- Provide Ohio citizens and business owners with information about shopping for an electric rate in Ohio. They publish the PUCO apples to apples cost comparison to help you compare rates (more on that below).
PUCO Apples to Apples Shopping Site
The Public Utility Commission of Ohio created their PUCO Apples to Apples comparison shopping site, called Energy Choice Ohio, to help you shop for electricity. It’s a great resource but has limited search capabilities and often does not show the best plans that providers only show on their sites.
That’s why we created ElectricityPlans.com. We work with only high quality providers and get the best OH power plans for you. All prices are compared apples to apples on our site. We display all of the fine print so you don’t have to worry about getting that surprise bill. In addition to basic and renewable electricity plans, we show unique plans for Veterans & Active Military, plans that support charities, and Time of Use plans that are cheaper during nights and weekends. In addition, we show rate histories and accurate pricing for each plan.
Why shop for Ohio Electricity?
A quick look at the historical price to compare for your utility answers this question. Your price changes multiple times a year when you are with the utility rate. With energy choice, you can lock in a fixed rate plan, or go green if you want. Deregulation is all about options.
Read more: Learn How to Shop for an Electric Supplier in Ohio >>
PUCO Utility Education for Ohio Citizens
In addition to Apples to Apples, PUCO runs an educational web site, www.puco.ohio.gov. On this site, you will find information on energy efficiency, conservation tips, budget billing, renewable energy portfolio standards and utility rate cases.
Your Electricity Price to Compare
As we said above, the PUCO approves utility rates cases for each Electric Distribution Utility (EDU).
For electricity, you can choose a competitive retail electricity supplier if your EDU is any of the following:
- Duke Energy Ohio
- AEP Ohio (Columbus Southern and Ohio Power)
- First Energy (Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, and The Illuminating Company)
- Dayton Power & Light (DP&L)
The price to compare changes regularly and can be different for every customer depending on how it is calculated. This can make shopping for energy in Ohio more difficult! Each EDU purchases their electricity supply through an auction process overseen by PUCO. They take the results of their supply auctions and other expenses and build a base standard supply offer (SSO) price. This is then approved by PUCO. But each Ohio customer can have their own “price to compare.” The SSO is oftentimes a tiered rate structure, with different prices depending on defined usage levels.
The price to compare is subject to change every month based on the utility’s Standard Service Offer rates for the applicable time period and changes in usage patterns. If you want to learn more about the SSO, you can read more with this article on “Understanding Ohio Price to Compare.” And, you can always find your estimated price to compare by looking at your utility bill.
PUCO also regulates aggregation programs for Ohio citizens. Under aggregation, citizens in a community shop together, as if they are one consumer. Energy suppliers bid on this opportunity, and an aggregation rate is set.
Most aggregations in Ohio are “opt-out” aggregations. Unless you are already served by a competitive energy supplier, or actively opt-out of the aggregation, you will be switched to the winning bidder for your community.
Aggregations typically provide for a 2 or 3 year term. As a consumer, you can exercise your right to shop for your electricity supply at any time. There is no financial penalty to switch to a certified retail electricity supplier. And, depending on how prices have changed since the aggregation auction, it may benefit you to do so!
Not sure if your community is part of an aggregation? Check with your local town hall or city/town administrators.
Take the Next Step
In most areas of Ohio, whether you save money or not by switching is up to you!
Most consumers are looking for an electricity plan that will beat the price to compare rate, as shown on their bill. Or maybe you just want to have the price certainty that comes with having a fixed rate plan. Or maybe you prefer green energy.
ElectricityPlans.com works to give you all the information you need to make your informed decision. After all, as a citizen of Ohio, it’s in your power to choose the electricity plan that’s right for you.