Ohio Consumers' Counsel Seeks End To Assignment Of Certain Non-shopping Customers To Retail Suppliers Under Monthly Rate Program
Seeks To Re-introduce SCO For Such Non-shopping Customers
Says "Price Gouging" Compels End Of Monthly Rate Program
March 12, 2018 Email This Story Copyright 2010-17 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) filed a petition at PUCO to, "protect customers from unreasonably high natural gas prices that some marketers charge to residential customers through the Monthly Variable Rate (MVR)," at Dominion Energy Ohio, and requested that the PUCO re-establish Dominion’s competitively bid Standard Choice Offer (SCO) as the default service for all choice-eligible residential customers.
"The Monthly Variable Rate should be eliminated as a program for assigning residential consumers to a natural gas marketer when they end service with a marketer," OCC said
The Standard Choice Offer is applicable to DEO residential customers who have not shopped.
The monthly variable rate mechanism is applicable to customers who cease taking competitive supply outside of the SCO. Specifically, under the MVR, residential customers who were on competitive supply, whose marketer contract or opt-out governmental aggregation contract has expired, may enroll with a new marketer or aggregation program or may choose the Standard Choice Offer. If the residential customer does not choose one of these three options, the customer will be assigned to the Monthly Variable Rate after two billing cycles on the Standard Choice Offer (SCO).
OCC said that the current approach, "results in some customers falling victim to price gouging, where in some instances the Monthly Variable Rate has been significantly higher than the Standard Choice Offer."
"Some of the Monthly Variable Rates can be significantly higher than the Standard Choice Offer, to a level resulting in the price-gouging of Ohioans. For instance, for the period of November 10 - December 12, 2017, Dominion’s Standard Choice Offer was a low $2.752 per MCF for consumers. Meanwhile, the various Monthly Variable Rates ranged from $3.15 to $8.49 per MCF, with an average price of $4.92 per MCF. For a typical consumer using 9 MCF of natural gas per month, the difference between a marketer’s high (and outrageous) rate of $8.49 per MCF and Dominion’s standard choice rate of $2.752 per MCF would on average be about $51.00 per month on a consumer’s bill," OCC said
"For the period between December 13, 2017 and January 13, 2018, Dominion’s Standard Choice Offer was a low $3.074 per MCF while the available Monthly Variable Rates cost consumers between $3.15 and $6.99 per MCF, with an average price of $4.91 per MCF. For a typical consumer using 9 MCF of natural gas per month, the difference between a marketer’s high (and outrageous) rate of $6.99 per MCF and Dominion’s standard choice rate of $3.074 per MCF would on average be about $35.00 per month on a consumer’s bill," OCC said
OCC said that under stipulations in DEO merchant function proceedings, it can use data concerning costs paid by MVR customers provided by Dominion in only limited circumstances.
However, OCC said that at Columbia Gas, shadow billing indicates that customers who purchased from natural gas marketers have paid nearly $1.5 billion more than they would have paid under the utility’s rate.