Consumers Counsel Seeks To Implement Switch Block
November 9, 2022 Email This Story Copyright 2010-21 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has proposed that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopt rules allowing natural gas customers to place a "switch block" on their accounts, and to require natural gas utilities to include shadow billed default service amounts on shopping customers' bills
OCC's recommendations came in a periodic rulemaking proceeding examining the minimum gas service standards, including various retail market rules (see background here)
OCC said that a rule should be added, "that requires natural gas companies to offer consumers the option
for requesting that a switching block be placed on their accounts."
Unlike in a prior periodic rulemaking for electricity, PUCO Staff did not propose to implement a switch block. PUCO previously denied a switch block proposed by Staff in such electric rules proceeding
OCC proposed rule language stating that: "Each gas or natural gas company will allow any customer to request a
retail natural gas supplier block be placed on the customer’s account. The
block will prevent the customer’s commodity service provider from being
switched until such time as the customer requests that the gas supplier
block be removed from the account."
OCC said, "A switching block prevents gas service from being switched to a natural gas
supplier until and unless customers request that the supplier block be listed. This is an
important anti-slamming consumer protection that helps provide customers with peace of
mind by knowing that an unscrupulous marketer is not going to be able to switch their
natural gas supply service during any time that the block is in effect with the natural gas
utility. Any lock could be removed with affirmative consent of the consumer."
OCC further proposed that shopping customer bills include shadow billed amounts for the cost customers would have paid under default service
OCC proposed rule language stating that utility consolidated bills shall include the following shadow bill statement: "Your natural gas supply costs with (Name of Supplier) were ($
for the month). Customers who were served on the (standard
choice offer 'SCO') or (gas cost recovery rate 'GCR') for the
month paid ($ for the month) for the same level of usage."
OCC also proposed a rule requiring public reports of aggregate shadow-billed data
OCC proposed a rule stating: "For each natural gas utility customer shopping with a competitive
retail natural gas supplier, the natural gas utility shall create a bill
as if that customer were on the utility’s standard choice offer
(SCO) or the gas cost recovery rate (GCR). Each year a natural gas
utility shall publicly file a report with the commission detailing the
aggregated customer savings or losses experienced as a result of
shopping with competitive retail natural gas suppliers instead of
choosing the SCO or GCR."