The Economy & Business
6:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Warm For Winter: Energy Choice Allows Ohio Electric Consumers To Shop Around

Credit liftarn / Openclipart

The state of Ohio has been investigating its competitive energy market for a year now, and the state reports electric competition is growing, which means more options for consumers.

Energy choice itself doesn’t look like much: the lights go on, the lights go off, and you pay your monthly bill the same way. But in the past, a utility company—the name that’s on most people’s electric bills—also owned the actual power plant. Electric choice, which was passed in Ohio over ten years ago, is gradually moving the market away from that system.

A competitive energy market allows consumers to choose generators, although electricity is still delivered by utilities like Dayton Power and Light or Duke Energy. Now consumers can compare energy prices, seek out fixed-rate contracts, or shop for renewable or greener energy.

Under the new market, companies like DP&L have been required to split off from their generation arm. So DP&L Electric, now a separate company from the Dayton Power and Light Utility, competes with other generation companies in an open market, even on its own home turf.

Even though the option’s been out there for over a decade, Matt Shilling of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) says choice has seen a lot of growth in the last two or three years, largely because the commission has been working closely with the utility companies on implementation. Electric production and delivery is still tightly regulated by the commission.

PUCO’s current investigation of the market could result in reforms in the coming year. Meanwhile, consumers can explore energy options and compare prices on the PUCO website, and residents of some cities including Dayton and Xenia may be able to participate in a bulk-purchasing arrangement known as electric aggregation.