Ohio State agency can help with electricity billing questions, disputes

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Consumers in Ohio, for questions about energy bills, contract terms, and more, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is available to help address your questions.

Contact: Edd Pritchard

Contacting your electric company should be enough to help resolve a problem with an electric bill, but customers have other options if needed.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio — a five-member panel appointed by the governor — monitors public utility companies and enforces state regulations. Falling under PUCO’s direction are investor-owned electric companies, including FirstEnergy and American Electric Power, the two companies cover most of Stark County.

PUCO also regulates investor-owned natural gas companies, a handful of water and sewer companies and all land-line telephone companies. Moving companies and railroad crossings also fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.

As part of its job regulating different utilities, PUCO helps customers with questions or complaints. It’s part of the effort to ensure that rules are followed, said Matthew Schilling, public information officer for the agency.

Sometimes that lands PUCO employees in the midst of billing disputes.

“Our role is to be a neutral arbiter with the customer and the utility,” Schilling said.

Most area residents receive a bill from American Electric Power’s AEP Ohio division or FirstEnergy’s Ohio Edison operation. The bills have two parts, one covering the cost of transmitting electricity to a home or business and the second covering the cost of the electricity consumed.

The transmission rate goes to either AEP or FirstEnergy. It’s fixed and shouldn’t change from month to month.

The consumption rate might be charged by the utility company or it might be charged by an electricity supplier. It is a rate that can change each month, depending on the amount of power used. A meter records usage.

A billing question or complaint would start with the company that sent the bill, although that can be confusing when it comes to electric bills.

AEP and FirstEnergy both operate centers that field questions about bills. Accounts also can be managed — and questions addressed — on the websites the companies maintain.

Likewise for the multiple companies that sell electricity plans to Ohio residents.

During 2014, PUCO’s call center handled 76,402 calls and online contacts concerning the utilities it regulates.

Most of the time, call-center employees can correct problems informally. Many of the calls involve simple questions about billing, reading meters or other matters that can be explained or resolved easily, Schilling said.

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View this News Release (external link)

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