NOPEC’s Goal Paved With Good Intentions
Last month, the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) tried their best to save customers money this winter. NOPEC dumped over half a million households onto the local utility’s Standard Service Offer (SSO). We’re now facing two big questions. Firstly, will NOPEC be able to continue to serve Ohio? Secondly, is the local utility able to rise to the sudden increase of homes requiring service? While the overall demand hasn’t changed, someone has to pay for it. The question is who will that be? Will NOPEC’s customer dump hike other Ohio electric rates?
PUCO Challenges NOPEC
Shortly after NOPEC‘s action, Dynegy, a wholesale electricity supplier, filed a complaint with PUCO. Their complaint accused NOPEC of intentionally tampering with the electricity market to drive up prices. The complaint alleges that NOPEC planned to sell back the electricity they had purchased for this year at the higher price. This would directly affect companies that took in their former customers. Dynegy has since dropped its suit. However, PUCO has stepped in and started questioning NOPEC’s ability to function as an aggregator. PUCO then opened its own case against NOPEC on September 7th, 2022.
Will This Affect The Price Of Electricity?
The short answer is not initially. Ohio Edison’s Price To Compare changes on the first of the new year. This means that this early winter, you should expect prices to stay somewhat steady. However, in the new year, the cost of supplying additional electricity may come back to haunt consumers. Most of the supply auctions for next year’s electricity wholesale have already finished. Local utilities have already reserved their supplies, they’re not prepared to serve an unexpected load. As a result, the Ohio Edison will likely buy additional power from the secondary energy market. And those prices can be expensive. That means, in addition to possible natural gas price spikes this winter, customers could see increased rates this spring.
Future Role of NOPEC in Ohio Electricity?
There are a few ways out of this mess. On one hand, PUCO could ban NOPEC from doing business in Ohio. According to NOPEC, after this brief pause they want to return to business as usual in June 2023. The outcome of the legal cases may stop that completely. If the company can’t show they can afford to continue, we will see a major change to the Ohio electricity market.
Lastly, if you are one of NOPEC‘s 550,000, where can you find a better deal?
A Way Forward For Ohio Customers
We just have to wait and see what happens with the current court cases. In the meantime, be sure to stay on top of rates for your area. And if you’re a NOPEC customer, be sure to shop around if you find yourself suddenly switched to the SSO. Shopping for a fixed rate can protect you from unexpected price hikes in the future. Regardless of where you are, consider locking in a low rate now before possible higher PTC rates kick in. You can shop all the best rates at www.ohenergyratings.com.