The $24 billion ($3 billion per year) saved by consumers in Ohio over the past 8 years owing to market deregulation is at risk, as investor-owned utilities seek to regulate the market again.
A study conducted by researchers at the Ohio and Cleveland State Universities has found that investor owned utilities in Ohio want the energy market regulated as their energy generating plants are not able to compete in the deregulated market.
The energy providers are lobbying the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and legislators for anti-competitive measures like mandated charges and, ultimately, a return to a regulated market where profits are guaranteed, according to the study.
The study states that in the event the market is regulated again:
• Lawmakers and the big utilities will continue to add costly “riders” to customers’ bills – charges that consumers must pay to support the utilities’ outdated generating facilities. Mandated and regulated charges made to boost utility profits increased from 35% of the total bill to 43%.
• Energy aggregators, brokers and commercial retail electric services moving out of the Ohio market, will ease pressure on the utilities but result in “price increases that will be unchecked by competition”
• The loss of non-financial benefits that flow from a deregulated market in which energy suppliers compete for customers by more efficiently allocating resources, lowering the cost of power production and providing more options for renewable energy.
Chuck Keiper, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, said “Competition means the smartest, most capable and efficient energy companies thrive. And a competitive electricity market leads to more secure energy industry jobs because these companies succeed based on their performance – not because they’re propped up by government subsidies and regulation or have a monopoly on electricity generation.
“Idividual businesses and consumers have made it clear that they want a competitive electricity supplier market to continue. One statewide poll showed that nearly 79% of Ohio voters would oppose any legislation that did away with a consumer’s ability to shop for power suppliers.
To read the full study and to learn more about how to support energy choice, go to www.saveenergychoiceohio.org.