Ohio Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Bar Submetering Mark-ups

A central Ohio legislator is making a second effort to pass a bill that would eliminate the current practice of unregulated submetering by companies that mark up the costs of power in certain apartments and condominiums.

Rep. Mike Duffey, (R-Worthington), introduced House Bill 589 on August 16 – a measure to Regulate residential utility reselling. Under the terms of the new legislation, consumers would pay no more to buy back submetered energy than the prices charged by regulated utilities.

Duffey sponsored another bill along the same lines two years ago, according to a report in the local Columbus Dispatch – one of several competing proposals, none of which passed.

Unlike most states, the news outlet said, Ohio allows unregulated, third-party submetering companies to make big profits by reselling electricity and water to residents of apartments and condominiums.

Indeed, the paper reports, submetering companies, such as Nationwide Energy Partners and American Power & Light, act as middlemen – buying electricity and water from regulated companies and then reselling them to residents in multifamily housing complexes.

The Dispatch has reported on submeter companies since 2013, showing that some consumers are paying up to 40 percent more for electricity than they would under regulated prices. The practices are most common in large apartment complexes in central Ohio. Nationwide Energy claims that it has changed some of its practices and that its consumers are paying the same rates as they would from a regulated utility.

“I still care about the issue,” Duffey told the Columbus-Dispatch. “Consumers are still unprotected and this is a completely unregulated area. This is the wild, wild west.”

Under the terms of the latest proposal, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) would have a year to determine specific rules for the submetering companies. If, for some reason, the commission does not come up with rules within that 12-month period, then utility reselling would be banned. Duffey included the deadline to encourage the commission to move quickly.

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