Reselling of utility services (submetering) and proposed legislation
The residents of many apartments, manufactured homes and other housing communities do not receive a bill from their local utility.
Instead, their utility service might be submetered, included in the rent, or pro-rated among others in the community. A submeter allows an apartment owner or other company to purchase utility service (electric and water) and then resell that service to tenants by utilizing the submeter to record usage.
In October 2013, an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch discovered that the practice of reselling public utility services has inflated some residential utility bills by as much as 40 percent, compared to customers who are billed directly by a public utility.
Following the newspaper series, several bills related to the reselling of utility services have been introduced in the Ohio General Assembly.
The Office of the Consumers’ Counsel has been working with legislators and other stakeholders to address the concerns associated with the practice of reselling.
In testimony before the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee in April 2014, the Consumers’ Counsel provided recommendations to protect consumers from the high costs of resold public utility services.
In December 2016, the PUCO’s commission-ordered investigation into the practice of submetering found that submetering companies can be subject to PUCO regulations under certain circumstances depending upon their business model and the amount of the charges. The PUCO requested comments from interested persons concerning the level of additional charges that submetering companies could charge above regulated charges for similarly situated consumers.
In March 2019, Senator Tina Maharath (D - District 3) introduced new legislation on submetering, Senate Bill 86. This bill would provide consumers with some regulatory protections from the reselling of utility services. The bill is currently in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee and is awaiting its first hearing. The Office of the Consumers’ Counsel will analyze this legislation and make recommendations for consumer protection as it goes through the legislative process.
As regulation efforts continue, the OCC will continue to argue against overcharging for submetering services and advocate for consumer protections in submetering services.
We are currently assisting consumers with complaints about a utility service that is resold to you by a middleman company (also known as submetering). Please contact OCC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 282-9448, (877) 742-5622 or (614) 466-9467.