Fifteen years ago Ohioans were given the opportunity to benefit from retail gas competition and throw aside the monopoly service that had been in place for decades. Ohio's political and business leaders have continued the evolution to competition by working together. The move from a monopoly service to competition is not a transition that can be accomplished overnight; it takes time and attention to detail. State law (4929.02) declares that it shall be the policy of the state to support competitive markets that are free of subsidies. Subsidies create an uneven playing field and hinder the development of true competition. For those who have not selected a retail gas provider, they have experienced a transition from the former Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) to a competitive market through the use of the Standard Choice Offer (SCO). A problem has recently arisen since state law also states that services are to be provided free of subsidy. The costs of putting the SCO together are being paid for by all gas consumers rather than the SCO provider. In Dominion, only 18 percent of the market is on the SCO and they have their price subsidized now by the majority of customers. HB102, sponsored by Rep. Kristina Roegner of Hudson, directs the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to initiate a proceeding to determine how much the general natural gas ratepayers are subsidizing the SCO provider and grants the PUCO the authority to stop the costs shifting to residential consumers when the costs should be borne by SCO providers. Most consumers could see a decrease in their gas bill should a credit be applied. HB 102 does not change state law but rather directs that a study be performed in order to bring the SCO programs into compliance with law. We urge legislators and interested citizens to support HB 102.
Donald L Mason,