Second bill targeting submetering companies


    (WSYX/WTTE)

    More oversight and accountability is the goal of a second bill introduced at the Ohio Statehouse, aimed at putting rules in place for the companies that resell utility services.

    Republican Senator Kevin Bacon said Thursday he wants to prevent consumers from being charged higher rates than regulated utility companies charge.

    "This practice has become very profitable to some companies in recent years, often at the expense of low-income consumers," Senator Kevin Bacon said. "Some utility providers are able to get away with deceptive billing practices and unjustified price hikes largely because the law doesn't prohibit it. It's time to fix that."

    His bill includes provisions to charges at the same rate or lower as regulated utilities, stop property owners from charging more than one administrative fee each month for all utility services, and protect consumers from liability for any costs related to the routine operation, repair and maintenance of service lines.

    Additionally, the bill requires submetering property owners provide a description of how consumers will be billed for the utility services and an estimate of typical monthly power usage.

    All submeters must meet the standards set by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and customers can require accuracy testing.

    The Ohio Attorney General could enforce these requirements, if Bacon's bill becomes law.

    This proposed legislation comes three months after an ABC 6 On Your Side Investigation uncovered a gap in regulation allowing submetering companies to gouge customers and include extra or additional community charges. It leaves tenants no other recourse, other than to move out.

    Another bill was recently introduced in the Ohio House. That bill makes the PUCO adopt rules and govern residential utility companies.


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