The deregulation of the electricity marketing in Ohio means that now customers have the right to choose who supplies them with the power to their homes and businesses. But with deregulation comes a widening of the market and more potential confusion when looking at OH electric suppliers. In order to help customers understand their rights and obligations, the Office of the Ohio Consumers Counsel (OCC) is available to help customers ensure they are being treated fairly.
Looking into switching
The first stage in making use of the new market is to look into switching and consider the different prices and deals available. You can see the information about your existing tariff on your electricity bill and this gives you information about how much you pay per unit and any additional costs involved.
There are then ways to look through the various energy providers in Ohio to see what prices they can offer. By using authorized companies, you are protected under the OCC but how do you know that the company is legitimate?
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio or PUCO are the people that hold information on all of the electric suppliers in the state. They grant certificates to allow the company to offer their services in the state so you should only ever get your power from a company listed on the website. Other regulations that apply to the companies include:
- They must reveal the type of rate they offer – variable, fixed or something else
- They must provide clear and understandable explanations of reasons that their variable rate might change
- They cannot use false, deceptive or misleading statements around their products or services such as promising savings they cant deliver or rates they dont have
- They cannot solicit by phone or mail anyone who is on their 'Do Not Contact' list
When you have the rates from the marketers or website for the different companies and have decided about which one you think is right for you, the next stage is to receive a contract. This is a legally binding agreement so you should read it thoroughly and make sure you understand what you are signing up for. The following information must be on the contract:
- Name, address and toll-free number
- Any fees for switching from the local utility to the new company
- Itemized list of prices, details of recurring and nonrecurring charges, billing cycle, fees for late payment and any other fees charged
- Any factors that can cause the rate to change
- Complaints handling process
- Any automatic renewal provisions
In addition, the customer should know things like if there is a sign-up or cancellation fee, the length of contract and if it automatically renews as well as what happens if they move mid-term. They should also understand who to contact about billing concerns.
After signing the contract
Once you have signed the contract, you will receive a confirmation notice which details general information such as switch over date, any marketers information if they have been involved in the process and if further action is required. You have seven days from the postmarked date to change your mind without facing any cancellation charges if you decide the service isnt right for you after all.