The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, known as PUCO, is the government entity in the state of Ohio that regulates providers of utility services, including electric and gas companies, telephone companies, water and wastewater, as well as trucking and rail companies.
Apples to Apples Ohio is the energy rate comparison chart created and maintained by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The goal of the “Apples to Apples” comparison chart is to give Ohio residential and commercial energy consumers an easy and straight-forward tool to compare price options and contract terms from energy suppliers that provide service in respective zip codes across the state of Ohio.
PUCO regulations impact pricing, maintain the quality of service, provide safety, and support a healthy competitive market. It’s important to track PUCO regulations as they will impact the energy market and every home and business in Ohio.
Regulates the delivery and transmission rates of utility services
Regulates the safety and reliability standards of utility services
Resolves disputes between residential or business customers and utility service providers
Mediates disputes between regulated utility companies
Enforces rules and state laws against unfair, inadequate and unsafe services
Assures availability of utility services to all Ohio residents and businesses
Ensures the financial integrity of utility companies
Promotes utility infrastructure investment through regulatory action
The “comparison chart is a valuable tool for residential consumers who are looking to compare rates. Each energy supplier in Ohio is required by PUCO to publish two (2) rates to the residential pricing table. This requirement gives residential consumers a number of suppliers and rates to compare and choose.
Unfortunately, Ohio businesses are not as fortunate as it relates to the “Apples to Apples” comparison chart as PUCO does not require the same energy suppliers to publish commercial rates. Without this important requirement to publish rates each day, business customers looking for an energy plan cannot use the comparison chart as effectively as a homeowner.
To compound the energy shopping challenge, most businesses have significantly higher energy usage (than residential homes) resulting in a much higher energy bill each month. Additionally, businesses also operate in a wide variety of industries – from retail to service; from manufacturing to restaurants – with very unique and differentiated patterns of energy usage.
In general, energy suppliers are risk averse – meaning, they require commercial entities, aka small businesses to enterprise level companies, to submit information on their energy usage so that the supplier can customize an energy plan for the business. In developing a plan, each supplier will factor in a specific business’ energy usage, location, load factor and load shape, as well as time of usage (seasonal and daily). With more information on the business energy usage, the energy supplier can reduce their risk and offer an energy rate that reflects their cost of supplying energy to the business.
With this information, it’s important for Ohio based businesses to understand that the commercial rates quoted on the Apples to Apples comparison chart are primarily teaser rates used by energy suppliers to get more business leads.
In most cases, small and medium sized businesses as well as enterprise companies should conduct additional online research in sourcing energy plans and comparing energy rates for their business.
Since 2002, Ohio energy rates have trended up with the usual spikes in the summer months when energy demand is at its highest.
“Price to Compare” is a baseline energy rate calculated by taking the estimated amount you would pay your local utility for service – if you did not choose an alternate electricity supplier – and dividing that amount by your total kilowatt hours used.
Here’s an example of “Price to Compare”:
If the future annual generation cost of electricity is $800 and you have an historical average annual usage of 10,000 kWh, then your “Price to Compare” rate would be 8 cents per kWh.
The “Price to Compare” is subject to change every month based on your utilities Standard Service Offer (SSO) rates. Standard Service Rate is what your utility would charge if did not opt to go with a third-party energy supplier. Each utility is required to conduct a competitive wholesale auction facilitated through an independent consultant to procure the energy requirements for its customers using the SSO rate.
For most business and residential customers, the best path forward is to use the SSO rate as a baseline of market rates – similar to how you would use the MSRP price when shopping for a car. The best option to compare and switch energy is to avoid the SSO rate and and use a third party supplier for energy rates.
With the goal to keep consumers in the dark on how rates are determined, the energy industry is purposely complicated. It’s important to invest the time to understand the energy industry, how it works, and how rates are calculated. Businesses can start with new innovative online platforms like EnergyBot.
EnergyBot has developed a robust website with an energy database that combines historical energy usage data with advanced logic to determine the best energy rates available in specific zip codes (in deregulated markets like Ohio).
By streamlining and digitizing the entire energy shopping process, EnergyBot has dramatically reduced the time for businesses to switch their energy plan – from 2 weeks to just 5 minutes.