On October 20, 2013, The Columbus Dispatch published the first of a series of front-page investigative reports about the billing practices of two Central Ohio third-party utility resellers. Among other things, the articles found that apartment and condominium residents billed by the resellers were charged as much as 40 percent more than the cost of the utility. In an accompanying article, the Dispatch contrasted these two resellers with Guardian’s billing practices.
In the intervening years since the Dispatch articles were first published, the Ohio House and Senate have both unsuccessfully grappled with a legislative solution that would protect Ohio apartment and condominium residents from reseller utility mark-ups.
States that have already enacted submetering legislation, including Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, Wyoming, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Indiana, have each embedded a simple, common sense provision in their submetering laws: Utility costs billed to residents cannot exceed the actual utility cost billed to the apartment or condominium community by the utility provider. For example, if a municipal water department bills an apartment community $10,000 for monthly water usage in the community, then the residents cannot be billed for more than $10,000.
The Utility Management and Conservation Association, the submetering industry trade association, ranks this principal first on their list of best practices:
“The common practice is to ensure the total amount billed the end-users (residents) does not exceed what is billed the provider (utility).”
Embedding this common sense principle in any future Ohio submetering legislation will provide strong consumer protection while also fostering conservation of water, gas and electric resources through submetering.
For more information about the Ohio submetering environment, please contact Sean Dicks at (614) 388-6022 or email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.