Consumers are contacted by energy marketers on the phone, at the door and in the mail. Have you been contacted about switching to an energy marketer? It’s common because Ohio consumers have an energy choice to make: who will supply my natural gas?
With energy choice, consumers may choose to have their natural gas supplied by their utility company. Consumers also have the option to sign a contract with a natural gas marketer or join an aggregated community. Consumers are not required to switch to a marketer or join an aggregated community.
Switching to a marketer does not guarantee savings. Market rates for natural gas have been historically low in Ohio, and Ohioans are unlikely to save money by switching to a gas marketer at this time. If a marketer offers a lower rate, it may only be available for one to two months.
Natural gas choice is offered by Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dominion East Ohio, Duke Energy Ohio and CenterPoint (formerly Vectren). Energy choice is not available to consumers of municipal power systems, members of co-ops or consumers enrolled in energy assistance programs like the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus).
To see if switching to an energy marketer or aggregator is right for you, start by checking the “Standard Choice Offer” on your natural gas bill. This is the amount your utility company charges to deliver your energy. To save consumers money, a marketer or aggregator must offer the same service at a rate lower than the Standard Choice Offer rate. Pay attention to every bill because the Standard Choice Offer can change every month and it is different than the Price to Compare on your electric bill. Refer to several bills to calculate an average before comparing with a marketer’s offer.
Monthly Variable Rate (MVR)
Customers of Dominion East Ohio (DEO) who have chosen an alternative to Dominion East Ohio’s Standard Choice Offer (SCO) for their natural gas supply are at risk of being assigned to the Monthly Variable Rate (MVR).
The Monthly Variable Rate is a natural gas rate for customers whose natural gas marketer contract or aggregation program has expired and who have not selected one of the other rate options available. Under this rate, Dominion East Ohio assigns a participating marketer to provide natural gas supply at that marketer's current rate. The MVR tends to be higher than the competitively-bid SCO and some of the rates offered by natural gas marketers under the MVR are much higher, to the level of price-gouging.
In Ohio, consumers can choose how their natural gas is supplied. One option is the Standard Choice Offer, which is the market-based price of natural gas and varies monthly. The SCO is a combination of the wholesale price of natural gas and the retail price determined by a competitive auction. The marketers with the lowest bids at the auction win the right to supply consumers that have chosen the SCO. The SCO is a conservative option for saving money on natural gas.
More information on natural gas rates and other resources for making your natural gas choice are below. For information on electric choice, visit the OCC’s website for comparing your electric choices.
- The Standard Choice Offer is a dependable option for saving money on natural gas
- Establishing Electric and Natural Gas Service. Learn about procedures and policies for setting up your utility services.
- Energy Choice 101. Understand the energy options available to you: choosing a marketer, joining an aggregated group or staying with your current provider.
- Consumer Protections in Energy Choice. Know your rights and what to expect when discussing energy options with a marketer, salesperson or telemarketer.
- Standard Choice Offer (SCO) FAQs. Consumers are unlikely to save money by switching from the Standard Choice Offer. These fact sheets explain what the Standard Choice Offer means and where to find it on your natural gas bill.
Historical Regulated Standard Choice Offer Rates. Based on current rates and these historical rates, consumers are unlikely to save money by switching from the Standard Choice Offer.
Guide to Understanding Your Natural Gas Bill. Learn how to read and understand the charges on your natural gas bill.
Additional Resources from the PUCO