How to Testify at Local Public Hearings
It is important to know that you can express your concerns to those who make decisions about the utility rates you pay. There are two ways to share your views. One is by testifying at a local public hearing. Consumer testimony is important because it becomes a part of the permanent case record that the PUCO commissioners use to make decisions. A second way to participate is by sending in a comment via email or written correspondence.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) holds public hearings to give consumers an opportunity to comment about utility issues, such as proposed rate increases, that will affect them.
For cases involving rate increase requests, the PUCO must hold at least one public hearing within the utility’s service area. In some cases, the PUCO will hold more than one public hearing. Since the pandemic began, the PUCO has held virtual public hearings to allow the public to provide testimony through a video conference by phone or computer. The virtual public hearings can be viewed live through the PUCO’s YouTube channel. If you would like to request a hearing in your community, please contact the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826.
Share your opinion by testifying at a local public hearing
Practice helps for public speaking. The thought of public speaking makes almost everyone nervous, but do not let that stop you from having your voice heard. A little preparation makes it easier. It is recommended that you:
- Write out a statement or notes beforehand;
- Keep your comments short and to the point; and
- Practice your comments in front of others.
When it is time to testify
When you arrive at the local public hearing, you will be asked to sign your name on a roster. If it is a virtual public hearing, the PUCO will require the public to complete a registration form on the PUCO website a few days before the hearing. Your name will be called when it is your turn to speak.
If you decide to speak, you will be asked for your name and address, and to recite an oath stating that what you are about to say is the truth. After you have made your statement, you may be asked questions by representatives of the PUCO, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), or the utility. You may have your own questions to ask, but questions are not typically answered during a statement at a hearing. However, either before or after the hearing, company officials, PUCO and OCC representatives are generally available to assist you.
The content of your statement is up to you. You may want to explain how a rate increase would affect you, talk about whether or not you are satisfied with the quality of your utility service, or support the position of an individual who has spoken ahead of you. Your statement can enable the PUCO commissioners to understand how their decisions impact your life and finances.
Share your opinion by submitting comment via email or letter
You may file a comment at the PUCO’s web site at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us by entering the appropriate case number and clicking the “File a Comment” link. If you are unsure of the case number, you can contact the PUCO or OCC. Or, you can send a letter by mail to the PUCO commissioners at:
Public Utilities Commission
of Ohio, Docketing Division
180 East Broad Street, 11th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Be sure to include the utility company name and case number in your letter.
Other ways to get involved
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to testify or submit a comment;
- Discuss with the local news media the importance of reporting about the local hearing and other case issues;
- Write a letter to the editor of local newspapers;
- Talk to your local elected officials about the possibility of passing resolutions for filing with the PUCO; and
- Work with others on a petition that can be filed with the PUCO.
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