Ohio lawmaker tackles submeter utility reform

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State Representative Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) introduced House Bill 589 this week.

It aims to regulate submetering utility companies for the first time through the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

10 Investigates first covered complaints against utility submetering in 2014.

Submetering means people pay their utility bills to a company different from the actual utility generator. Generators include companies such as AEP or Columbia Gas. The leading submetering company in Columbus with multiple contracts downtown is Nationwide Energy Partners.

Submetering companies are allowed to estimate people's bills and charge additional fees because they are not regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

“The question for us as policy makers in Ohio is why would we allow submetering to be legal here when it is illegal in other states unless it's providing something of benefit to consumers?” Rep. Duffey said.

“I felt embarrassed because I had been a utility and regulatory attorney for almost 20 years,” downtown condo resident Mark Whitt said.

He was shocked when his condo electric bill was above $300 in winter, higher than his former house more than twice the size.

“I think people just need to go into situations, whether it's ownership or rental and ask questions,” Whitt said.

Submetering company Nationwide Energy Partners has filed legal paperwork opposing efforts to regulate their business through the Public Utilities Commission.

Gary Morsches, CEO of Nationwide Energy Partners, issued the following statement to 10TV.

“Nationwide Energy Partners continues to fully support comprehensive submetering regulatory legislation, as it has since 2013, that provides adequate consumer protections, as well as supports innovation, choice and the benefits that submetering provides to developers and their residents.”

“What we strive to do… is to try and go above and beyond what you might get from a traditional utility in terms of treatment and problem solving when an issue arises,” added the NEP statement.

10 Investigates is awaiting comment from Nationwide Energy Partners now that the text of House Bill 589 is available.

Rep. Duffey does not expect any forward movement until this fall.