Submetering company asks PUCO to nix public hearings

    Three consumer groups are demanding public hearings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, allowing people to sound off about submetering. (WSYX/WTTE)

    A submetering company filed a memo through Public Utilities Commission of Ohio objecting saying it would be “counterproductive” and “unnecessary” to hold any public hearings for consumers to vent about the practice of reselling utilities.

    “The holding of public hearings to consider the public’s views on submetering would not in any sense inform the commission on the legal question of its statutory jurisdiction over submetering,” according to the memo filed Thursday by an attorney representing Nationwide Energy Partners.

    Earlier this month, three consumer groups asked for public hearings so consumers could voice concerns about submetering.

    Utility consumers want the PUCO to address unregulated practice of submetering. Concerns range from overcharges to limited or nonexistent consumer protections.

    The three parties pushing for the hearings -- Office of the Ohio Consumer’ Counsel, the Ohio Poverty Law Center and Mark Whitt on behalf of numerous consumers -- argued the hearings are needed because consumers have no choice but to purchase utility services from a middleman because landlords or condominium associations have an exclusive partnership.

    Roughly 30,000 central Ohioans are affected by submetering practices that remain unregulated. Public utilities are subject to regulation and fall under the commission’s jurisdiction.

    Attorneys for Nationwide said in the memo that hearings “would not (and could not) assist the commission in its determination of whether, as a legal matter, a submetering company qualifies as a ‘public utility.’”

    It’s unclear when the commission will make a decision on whether to hold public hearings.

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