Ohio Electricity Switching Rules
Changes in the market in recent years has meant that it is now much easier to change between different Ohio electricity providers than ever before. This is good news for both domestic and commercial customers as you can find the best deal and save money on your electricity bills. But what are the rules around switching and how do you know that you are using an approved supplier?
Checking out the company
One of the first steps is to visit the PUCO website – the Public Utilities Commission Ohio. This is the body that registers electricity suppliers in the state and you should only get your power from someone who is on their database. PUCO regularly check companies as certification is an ongoing process so if a company falls below state standards, they will be removed from the register.
Another factor to understand is known as governmental buying groups or aggregations. In some parts of the state, local communities can join their citizens into a group to buy electricity and to handle negotiations on their behalf. This makes for stronger ‘buying power’ for the group and means people within it get a low price.
There are ‘opt-out’ programs in the majority of these cases where all local residents are automatically included and need to opt out to leave and sort their own electricity supplies. There is a majority vote needed to put the scheme in place and you can find out more about if there is one in your area through the PUCO website.
You have the right to obtain information from the supplier before signing the contract and should ask certain questions including:
- Is the price fixed or variable?
- If variable, how does it change?
- Are there any automatic increases or decreases in the price?
- Does how much electricity I use and when affect my price?
- What are the cancellation fees?
- Is there a deposit required?
- Are there any customer incentives for signing up?
By finding out this information before you sign the contract, you are better informed to make the best decision about your supplier.
Rights when switching
The primary reason behind switching your supplier is based on the price. There are varying energy rates in Ohio so shopping around can result in savings for the consumer. You also have certain rights guaranteed under the switching process and if you think that these rights have been violated, you can contact PUCO to take the matter further.
For example, if you don’t choose a supplier, then your current supplier has to continue to provide you with power. On the other hand, you cannot be switched without permission – this practice is illegal and known as ‘slamming’. Regardless of the supplier you choose, PUCO still regulates the delivery of electricity, monitors safety and checks the reliability of service.
Suppliers are required to provide you with information on both their generation sources and the by-products this creates to help consumers make an environmentally-based decision. And if they cease to the operator, then another local company must take your account so you aren’t left without power.