On Wednesday last week (01/09/2013) the Public Utility Commission of Ohio approved the deregulation of natural gas pricing for businesses. This is a step in the direction of getting all of the gas market in the state deregulated. Residential consumers of gas in the state cannot get the benefit of this rule change yet but, as is the case with electricity deregulation, the easing of regulations tends to start with the business sector and then moves into the residential segment.
The public utility commission tends to take this cautious approach to easing the rules by ‘testing’ out how the markets will treat the business segment. Commercial customers – with small commercial customers using between 15,000-400,000 kWh/year and medium/large commercial above 400,000kWh – can now buy gas from independent energy suppliers who set whatever price the market determines. This is in place of the state supervised competitive auction. This new process for gas is similar to what happens with electricity deregulation.
The changes will not be effective for the next few years for the residential segment (with Dominion East Ohio scheduled to start in 2016 and Columbia Gas of Ohio scheduled to start in 2017). It is the nature of these regulatory changes that the companies will still have to go through regulatory hearings and formally fine applications to eliminate the standard government auction determined pricing for residential customers.
The benefits that accrue to consumers in the form of increased understanding of the impact of their energy usage on not just their wallets but also on the environment, and the actions consumers can take, is something that deregulated markets (with services like ours here to help) bring. We’ll be here to help you as deregulation rumbles on…