Consumer groups urge public hearings on Dominion East Ohio proposal
by Tim Walters

(Plain Press, April 2006) Recently Consumers for Fair Utility Rates, other consumer groups, and the city of Cleveland petitioned the PUCO to hold public hearings on Dominion East Ohio Gas’s proposal to stop selling natural gas to its customers.

After some discussion, the PUCO agreed to public hearings around the state. Cleveland’s will take place on Tuesday, April 4th at 2 and at 6 PM at the Frank J. Lausche State Office Building on West 6th and Superior in the 2nd floor auditorium. (You will need a picture id to get in the building.)

Now for a little background as to what this is all about. Last year, many of you may have heard about Dominion East Ohio Gas’s proposal “to leave the marketing function”.   What this means is that Dominion East Ohio Gas is asking the PUCO to allow it to stop selling natural gas to its customers.   Under this change, customers would purchase natural gas from one of the competitive natural gas suppliers (like the ones that send you offers in the mail). Dominion would only be responsible for delivering the natural gas to you.

You, the customer, would have to determine which of these competitors you would buy your natural gas from, based on their market offers.  If you could not make that decision, you would be assigned to one of the suppliers.  Under this proposal, you would not be able to stay with Dominion East Ohio Gas.

PUCO is currently looking at the first stage of the proposal, in which Dominion is asking to eliminate its current Gas Cost Recovery mechanism and replace it with a new “standard service offer gas cost rate”.  

Consumers for Fair Utility Rates and a number of other groups have some concerns about the proposal.   In our opinion, there is some uncertainty as to how Dominion’s proposal will truly benefit the customer, as well as what will be the actual results.

Some questions that come to mind are:
•    Will residential customers be better off in the short and long term with companies other than Dominion providing natural gas for heating and, if so, how?
•    Will prices stay the same, go up or come down after the change?
•    What will be done to make sure that customers always have access to a reliable supply of natural gas?
•    Will customers be able to understand how to choose which supplier is best for them?

Consumers for Fair Utility Rates is asking all residents of this area who have similar concerns about this plan, or are just plain confused and uncertain, to come to the public hearings on April 4th.  You will have the opportunity to learn more about the plan and to make your thoughts known about it.  IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK UP.  

CONSUMERS FOR FAIR UTILITY RATES WILL BE THERE AND WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US.   If you want more information, you can call Tim Walters at the May Dugan Center, 216 - 631-5800.


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