PUCO adopts rules on electric governmental aggregation

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 9, 2001 – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today adopted rules designed to guide local governments in utilizing aggregation under Ohio Electric Choice.

Governor Bob Taft signed Senate Bill 3 on July 6, 1999, which ushered into Ohio a sweeping restructuring of the electric industry. The legislation changed the way consumers shop for electricity effective January 1, 2001.

As a result, where suppliers are active, customers can choose the company that supplies their electric power.

The legislation also allows local governments, such as cities, townships and counties, to create a buying group with “opt-in” (customer chooses to join) or “opt-out” (automatic inclusion unless customer chooses otherwise) provisions for their consumers. All aggregators must be certified by the PUCO and are subject to the Commission’s rules for all electric suppliers. Today’s rules supplement the supplier rules and specifically address the following three issues:

1. Cooperation by local electric utilities with Certified Governmental Aggregators – Upon request of a certified governmental aggregator, each local electric utility shall provide addresses, load profiles and account numbers for all customers residing within the governmental aggregator’s boundaries. The provision of this information and the protocol for switching customer accounts shall be consistent with those processes and time frames already in place for each electric utility for switching other customer accounts.

2. Formation and Operation of an Opt-Out Governmental Aggregation Program – Prior to applying for certification from the PUCO, a governmental aggregator seeking to form an opt-out program shall:

* adopt an ordinance or resolution authorizing the opt-out aggregation,

* conduct a general or special election and gain a majority in support of aggregation, and

* approve a plan for governance of the aggregation.

3. Opt-Out Notice Requirements – Prior to including a customer’s electric account in an aggregation, a governmental aggregator shall provide each customer written notice that the customer’s account will be automatically included in the aggregation unless the customer affirmatively opts out of the aggregation. Among other consumer protections, the aggregator must disclose: a description of the services being provided, prices to be charged, any applicable fees (such as switching fees or early termination penalties), and a description of the process and time period for opting-out of the program. Customers will have 21 days from the date of the postmark of the governmental aggregator’s written notice to opt out.

Today’s adoption of governmental aggregation rules follow earlier rules established to implement electric choice. Before becoming effective, the rules will first be filed with and reviewed by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

For more information about aggregation, the rights and responsibilities of customers living within aggregated territories and electric choice in general, call the Ohio Electric Choice toll-free answer center at 1-888-OEC-1314 or visit the Ohio Electric Choice web site at OhioElectricChoice.com . Full text of today’s rules and all Commission Orders is available through the PUCO web site at PUCO.ohio.gov .

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service and rates. The role of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is to assure all residential, business, and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices.

SOURCE: Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

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