PUCO provides pricing protections to submetered customers
COLUMBUS, OHIO (June 21, 2017) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today ruled that it will assert jurisdiction to stop submetering companies from charging submetered residential customers more than what the PUCO-regulated local public utility charges a customer with equivalent usage through default service rates.
“It is our hope that today’s Commission decision will serve to protect customers by disciplining pricing in the submetering marketplace and providing a true venue for submetered residential customers to file their grievances,” stated PUCO Chairman Asim Z. Haque.
To determine whether a submetered residential customer is being over-charged, the Commission established a pricing test that does not allow for a submetering entity to charge more than what the local public utility would charge for equivalent usage through default service rates. A submetering company must show that any amounts charged above that amount fit within a safe harbor set forth in today’s decision.
To assist submetered residential customers in performing the price test, the Commission directs local public utility companies to develop, in cooperation with PUCO staff, an online bill calculator tool. If submetered residential customers believe they are being over-charged for utility service, they will be able to utilize this tool or contact the PUCO Call Center for assistance.
In December 2015, the PUCO opened an investigation into the practice of submetering companies and solicited comments from interested parties.
In December 2016, the Commission issued an order modifying the longstanding Shroyer Test, which is used to determine if an entity is operating as a public utility. In doing so, the Commission established a relative price test which, when failed, creates a rebuttable presumption that the submetering company is offering regulated utility services at a profit, thereby subject to PUCO jurisdiction. Additionally, the Commission sought comment from stakeholders on the percentage threshold for the relative price test.
For more information on this issue, please visit the PUCO’s submetering: frequently asked questions page at www.PUCO.ohio.gov.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.
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