Will a New Law Help Ohio Electricity Customers?
There’s another bill in the Ohio Public Utilities Committee seeking to charge customers more money. But with any well intentioned law, the devil is in the details. House Bill 79 seeks to fund energy efficiency through a monthly charge on electric bills. Not surprising, some critics doubt whether it’s fair to Ohio energy customers. So, let’s dig into what HB79 does and if it affects your Ohio electricity bill.
Ohio HB79 Basics
HB79 is a five year energy efficiency program to promote efficient appliances and cut energy use. Ohio energy customers would pay $1.50 every month to fund it. Over the life of the program, that adds up to $90. That might not sound like much. But federally funded efficiency programs already send rebates to Ohio energy consumers. So some question if HB79 is needed at all.
But for Ohio electric utilities, the income from HB79 adds up to around $400 million. And that’s just to start.
Opponents also point to one part of the bill that lets utilities charge customers for “lost distribution revenue”. When customers reduce their usage, a utility doesn’t send out as much power over its network. As a result, the utility can’t bill their customers for as much. Then the utility loses money. But HB79 has a provision that would let Ohio utilities charge customers for the money it lost due to lower usage. So, it seems possible that some customers could pay more for using less.
Suspicions Over Ohio HB79
The long shadow of the HB6 scandal looms over this bill. And with it, a deep mistrust of the electric utilities. The Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition and the Ohio Consumer’s Council (OCC) presented testimony to the house committee. Both say how HB79 would enrich electric utilities at customer expense. Both also asked lawmakers to remove parts of HB6 that still protect payments to coal power plants. Of course, partisan passions are also running high. One critic said the bill’s sponsor introduced it as a favor to FirstEnergy. Pete Gerken of the Lucas County Commissioners Office told the Toledo Blade, “FirstEnergy has never done anything that isn’t profitable to them.”
Is HB79 A Bad Deal?
While both sides agree that energy efficiency is a good thing, who pays for is what’s at stake. The bill’s supporters point out that the program is voluntary. But this leaves out the part that consumers must choose to opt-out of the program. And the way to opt-out has not been made public, yet. All the same, bill supporters insist that automatically opting-in consumers will ensure funding for Ohio’s energy efficiency programs.
Ohio HB79 Future
Currently, HB79 is still in committee so beyond the $1.50, it’s not clear if any additional charges may be included. Only time will tell. In the meantime, we will track its progress. That way you’ll learn how it might affect your Ohio electricity bills.
With that in mind, remember that you can choose how to save on your electricity bills. There are a bunch of tips and tricks you can use to help make your home more energy efficient. Check out the latest news about HB79 and great ways to save money on www.ohenergyratings.com.