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Glossary of utility-related terms


2-1-1 - An abbreviated dialing code that directs callers to health and human services information and referral providers.

3-1-1 - An abbreviated dialing code that directs non-emergency telephone calls to police, fire and emergency services.

8-1-1 - An abbreviated dialing code that directs callers to Ohio Utilities Underground Protection Service.

9-1-1 - An abbreviated dialing code that directs emergency calls to police, fire and emergency services.

Access Charge - A fee charged subscribers or other telephone companies by a local exchange carrier for the use of its local exchange networks.

Aggregation - A practice that allows marketers and local governments to pool the electric or natural gas consumption of multiple customers, or residents as in the case of local governments, in order to purchase the electricity or natural gas at a bulk rate.

Alternating current (AC) – An electrical current in which the direction of the electron flow reverses periodically, usually many times per second. Most U.S. household electrical systems use AC current rated at 120 volts and 60 cycles per second.

Alternative Operator Service - Services provided by a third party, which would normally be provided by the operator. The most common services are alternative methods of paying for a call, such as collect calling, charging the call to a third party or paying by credit card or telephone company calling card.

Apples-to-Apples charts - The PUCO’s electric and natural gas rate comparison charts; the only comparisons in the state for which suppliers are required to provide accurate and up-to-date information about their latest offers.

Bandwidth - The capacity of a telecom line to carry signals. The necessary bandwidth is the amount of spectrum required to transmit the signal without distortion or loss of information. FCC rules require suppression of the signal outside the band to prevent interference.

Biofuels (biomass fuels) – Biomass converted directly to energy or converted to liquid or gaseous fuels, such as methane and hydrogen.

Biomass – Any organic matter available on a renewable basis including agricultural crops, waste residues, wood, wood wastes and residues, animal wastes, municipal wastes and aquatic plants.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) – The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound (one pint) of water one degree Fahrenheit. One (1) watt-hour equals 3.314 BTUs.

Broadband - A term that refers to the ability to transmit data at high rates of speed (45Mb/s and above). Usually associated with the transmission of data, multimedia audio and video (such as high-speed Internet access), it may also be part of private networks.

Broker - One who assumes the contractual and legal responsibility for the sale and/or arrangement for the supply of retail electric generation service to a retail customer without taking title to the power supplied.

Budget Billing – Program offered by Ohio's regulated electric and natural gas distribution companies that spreads out the cost of energy used during high-demand times of the year.

Bulk power – Massive or bulk quantities of electric current transferred on the high voltage transmission lines of an electric power system to destinations that could be hundreds of miles away. In the U.S., bulk power transactions for the purpose of wholesale interstate commerce are under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Bulk power system – The electrical generation resources, transmission lines, and interconnections with neighboring systems, and associated equipment, generally operated at voltages of 100 kilovolts (kv) or above.

Capacity – The capability to generate electrical power, usually measured in megawatts (MW) or kilowatts(kW).

Ccf - One hundred cubic feet; a unit used to measure natural gas usage.

Charge – A characteristic of matter responsible for all electric phenomena, particularly the force of the electromagnetic interaction occurring between two forms of matter that are considered either positive or negative; a measurement of this characteristic.

Circuit – A closed path followed or capable of being followed by an electric current. When a circuit is open, the flow of electric current is broken.

Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power – Production of electricity and usable heat or steam from a single facility.

Competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) – A local telephone company that competes with the incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) for the local telephone business of customers.

Common Carrier - In the telecommunications arena, the term used to describe a telephone company.

Cramming - The illegal practice of adding charges to a telephone bill for services that a customer did not order.

Crossbucks - The standard “X” signage seen at highway-rail grade crossings across Ohio.

Decoupling - A rate-making formula designed to encourage natural gas distribution companies to promote conservation by unlinking revenues from volumes of natural gas delivered.

Demand – The amount of electricity drawn from an electric power system at a given instant in time, generally measured in kilowatts or megawatts.

Demand-side management – The use of processes and equipment to reduce the use of electricity or to shift use away from periods of high electrical demand.

Dial Around - Long distance services that require consumers to dial a long-distance provider’s access code (or "10-10" number) before dialing a long-distance number to bypass or "dial around" the consumer’s chosen long-distance carrier in order to get a better rate.

Distributed generation (DG) – A general term for all or part of the customer’s distributed electrical generator(s) or inverter(s) together with all protective, safety and associated equipment necessary to produce electric power at the customer’s facility. The generator itself can be any type of electrical generator or static inverter. A distributed generator is one kind of distributive resource.

Distributed generation is a general term for all or part of a system of a distributed electrical generator or a static inverter either by itself or in the aggregate of twenty megawatts or less in size together with all protective, safety and associated equipment installed at a point of common coupling on the EDU’s distribution system in close proximity to the customer load.

Distribution system – The poles, wires and transformers used to deliver electric energy from a bulk power supplier to the consumer.

Disturbance – An unplanned event that produces an abnormal system condition on the EPS, as in the sudden failure of generation or interruption of load.

Electric current – A flow of electrons through a wire or other conductor.

Electric distribution utility (EDU) – an investor-owned electric utility that owns and operates a distribution wires system and supplies at least retail electric distribution service.

Electric energy – The flow of charged particles (electrons).

Electric Security Plan (ESP) – Filed by electric companies after the passage of Senate Bill 221, sets a plan for the supply and pricing of electric generation.

Electricity – Electric current or power that results from the movement of electrons in a conductor from a negatively charged point to a positively charged point.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) - A federal law signed in 2005. The Act was intended to establish a comprehensive, long-range energy policy. It provides incentives for traditional energy production as well as newer, more efficient energy technologies and conservation.

Energy storage – A device capable of absorbing voltage for future use, for example, a battery.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - An independent U.S. government agency charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

Federal Excise Tax - This three-percent tax is mandated by the federal government and imposed on all local calls. The federal excise tax is no longer imposed on long distance calls and wireless service.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) - A separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation whose mission it is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving motor carriers.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – An agency of the federal government responsible for regulation of electric and gas utility installations and wholesale services used in interstate commerce.

Flashing lights and roadway gates - Active warning devices found at many highway-rail grade crossings across Ohio.

Flicker – Fluctuating or unstable voltage on the EPS that adversely affects or is objectionable to neighboring customers on the EPS, such that light levels are irritating to people or the occurrence of flicker causes equipment to operate improperly.

Fossil fuel – Materials that were formed in the ground millions of years ago from plant and animal remains such as coal, oil or natural gas, now used to produce heat or power; also called conventional fuels.

Fuel cell – A device that changes the chemical energy of fuels directly into electricity.

Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) - A mechanism that provides a dollar-for-dollar recovery of costs incurred by a natural gas utility to purchase and deliver natural gas to its customers. The GCR mechanism enables the utility to correct any over or under collections of natural gas costs in previous periods.

Generator – A device that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

Grid – An interconnected system of electric cables and power stations that distributes electricity over a large area.

Gross Receipts Tax - When natural gas is purchased from a local utility, it is not subject to Ohio sales or use tax. The local utility must pay a gross receipts tax, which is included in the GCR rate charged for the natural gas based on the volume of gas consumed (per Ccf or Mcf).

Hazardous materials training and planning grants - Grants awarded by the PUCO to political subdivisions, educational institutions and other state agencies for the training of public safety and emergency services personnel in the proper techniques for the management of hazardous materials spills and releases that occur during transportation.

Highway-rail grade crossing - The general area where a highway and a railroad cross at the same level.  Also known as a “Highway-Rail Intersection” and “Railroad Crossing.”

Highway route controlled shipment - Some shipments of radioactive waste with a high radioactivity level (e.g., spent nuclear fuel) are identified as highway route controlled quantity (HRCQ) shipments. Carriers of HRCQ shipments are required to use “preferred routing” which restricts transport to certain interstate highways and alternative routes.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) – A federally funded assistance program available to help low-income Ohioans pay their home heating bill.  HEAP makes a one time payment to regulated utilities each heating season.

Hours of service rules - Rules that govern how long the driver of a commercial motor vehicle is allowed to operate their vehicle in a given period of time.

Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) – The “traditional” local telephone company in a geographic region.

Kilovolt (kv) – 1,000 volts. The amount of electric force carried through a high voltage transmission is measured in kilovolts.

Kilowatt (kW) – The basic unit of electric demand, equal to 1,000 watts; for example, the average household demand is 10 – 20 kilowatts.

Kilowatt hour (kWh) – A unit of energy of work equal to 1,000 watthours. The basic measure of electric energy generated for use. For example, a 100-watt light bulb burning for 10 hours uses one kilowatthour of energy.

Lifeline Assistance Program - Provides income eligible customers a discount on telephone connection fees and monthly telephone bills.

Line – A carrier of electricity on an electric power system.

Load – The amount of electric power drawn at a specific time from an electric power system, or the total power drawn from the system.

Load factor – The ratio of average demand to peak demand; a measure of efficiency that indicates whether a system’s electric use over a period of time is reasonably stable, or if it has extreme peaks and valleys.

Local Distribution Company (LDC) – an investor-owned natural gas utility that owns and operates natural distribution pipelines and delivers natural gas to consumers.

Local Number Portability (LNP) - A procedure that allows consumers to keep their telephone number when they switch local service from one telephone carrier to another.

Market Rate Option (MRO) – Senate Bill 221 allowed electric companies the option to submit a plan to the PUCO for approval to move to a market based rate structure for electric generation.

Marketer - One who assumes the contractual and legal responsibility for the sale and provision of retail electric generation service to a retail customer who had title to the electric power provided at some point during the transaction.

Mcf - One thousand cubic feet; a unit used to measure natural gas usage.

Megawatt (MW) – A unit of energy equal to 1,000 kilowatts or 1 million watts.

Megawatthour (MWH) – A unit of energy of work equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours or 1 million watthours.

Meter – A device used to measure, display, and record the amount of power flow in kW and/or kWh, and/or energy in kWh, at a point on the electric power system.

Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program – Provides federal grants to states to enforce federal and compatible state motor carrier safety and hazardous materials regulations.

National “do-not-call” registry - A list maintained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that allows consumers to have their telephone number removed from databases used by telemarketers. Consumers can register for the national do-not-call registry either online or at or by calling toll-free (888) 382-1222.

Natural gas choice - A program that allows consumers to choose the company that supplies their natural gas. Under natural gas choice, the local natural gas utility continues to deliver the gas to consumers’ homes and businesses.

North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) - An independent organization that works to ensure that the bulk electric system in North America is reliable, adequate and secure.

New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) - A “stock market” for energy and precious metal commodities. It sets a daily national market price for natural gas. Demand for natural gas is seasonal, and the NYMEX price can change dramatically from one month to the next. Variables including supply and demand and the weather can cause prices to fluctuate.

Off-peak – A period of low system demand on the electric power system.

Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) - (800) 362-2764.  Also known as “call-before-you-dig”, OUPS coordinates with utilities to mark underground lines before digging.

Outage – A temporary suspension or interruption of operation, especially of electric power, occurring when a power plant, transmission or distribution line or other facility on the electric power system is not operating.

Peak load – The amount of power drawn from an electric power system at the time of highest demand, measured in kilowatts or megawatts.

Peaking – The condition where a generating unit is operating to provide the maximum power it is capable of producing. A generating unit that is capable of the efficient production of peaking power is characterized as a “peaking unit.”

Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) – An assistance program that allows income eligible customers of regulated electric and natural gas utilities to pay a certain percentage of their gross monthly income towards their utility bills.

Photovoltaic – Capable of producing voltage when exposed to radiant energy, especially light.

Power quality – Voltage deviations, harmonic distortions, and power interruptions experienced by a Customer or the EPS that can damage or adversely affect operations of the customer’s equipment or equipment on the EPS.

Prescribed Interexchange Charge (PICC) - The charge the local exchange company assesses the long distance company when a consumer picks it as his or her long distance carrier.

PUCO Consumer Call Center - (800) 686-PUCO (7826). The PUCO consumer call center provides Ohioans with a toll-free resource where they can have their utility concerns addressed.

Riser - Connects an above ground natural gas meter to the service line. The riser is installed by a builder or subcontractor when the home or building is constructed. Inside basement meters do not have risers.

Roadcheck: An international transportation safety and security event held annually across North America.

Slamming – Slamming is the illegal practice of changing a customer’s local or long distance telephone service without their permission.

Solar power – Energy from the sun’s radiance converted into heat or electricity.

Standard – An acknowledged measure of comparison for value, a level of requirement, excellence or attainment.

Standard Offer Service – The electric generation or natural gas service a customer will receive from their local distribution utility if they do not choose a supplier. Sometimes referred to as default service.

Substation – A place on an electric power system that contains transformers to lower the voltage from a transmission level to a primary distribution system level.        

Subscriber Line Charge (SLC) - A monthly fee paid by telephone subscribers that is used to compensate the local telephone company for part of the cost of installation and maintenance of the telephone wire, poles and other facilities that link your home to the telephone network. These wires, poles and other facilities are referred to as the "local loop." The SLC is one component of access charges.

Surge – A sudden, transient increase in the flow of electricity.

Telecom Relay Service (TRS) - allows individuals with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone. TRS users dial the nationwide 7-1-1 dialing code to connect to a TRS operator who stays on the line to relay conversations. Calls can be placed from a standard telephone, a text telephone (TTY) or a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD). TRS is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or call length.

Transmission – The transfer of electric current-usually in massive or bulk quantities of power, from a power plant on an electric power system to a destination that could be hundreds of miles away. Power flow can be in either direction.

TTY - A type of machine that allows people with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the phone using a keyboard and a viewing screen. It is sometimes called a TDD.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) - Any technology providing voice telephony services over IP.

Voltage – Electromotive force or potential difference that pushes electricity through a wire, usually expressed in volts. Under IEEE 1547, the Distributed Resource must be able to cease to produce voltage within required clearing times set by IEEE for the capacity (size) of the specific Distributed Resource installation.

Watt – The electrical unit of power. The rate of energy transfer equivalent to 1 ampere flowing under a pressure of 1 volt at unity power factor.

Wattage – An amount of power, especially electric power, expressed in watts or kilowatts.

Winter Reconnect Order - A PUCO decision that ensures that Ohioans who have had their natural gas or electric service disconnected, or face potential disconnection, can keep their heat on during the winter heating season.

Wireless Enhanced 9-1-1 Service – Enables local emergency services to identify and locate wireless callers.  Wireless customers throughout Ohio pay a monthly 28 cent surcharge per wireless line to fund enhanced wireless 9-1-1 capabilities.

  • Phase I Service - provides the cellular tower information and caller’s contact number to an emergency services dispatcher.
  • Phase II Service - displays both the Phase I information and the latitude/longitude of the caller’s location.

Wireless local number portability (WLNP) - Local Number Portability applied to and between wireless carriers and between wireless and traditional or competitive telephone carriers.