Make Your Voice Heard at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO)
Did you know you can express your concerns to those making decisions about the utility rates you pay?
There are several ways to make your voice heard at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO):
- Speak (testify) at a local public hearing. This is important because your statement then becomes part of the record that the PUCO Commissioners use to make decisions on your utility rates.
- Send a comment by website, email or letter.
The PUCO holds public hearings to give consumers an opportunity to comment about utility issues, such as proposed rate increases.
For cases involving potential rate increases, 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, the PUCO has held some virtual public hearings to allow the public to provide comments through a video conference by phone or computer. The virtual public hearings can be viewed live through the PUCO’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/@PUCOhio.
If you would like to request a hearing in your community, call the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826.
Commenting at a local public hearing
It is okay to be nervous about public speaking, but do not let that stop you. Your voice and input are an important part of the process. Here are tips to help prepare for testifying:
- Write out a statement or notes beforehand;
- Keep it short and to the point; and
- Practice your comments in front of others ahead of time.
What happens at a hearing
When arriving at the local public hearing, you will be asked to sign your name on a list if you wish to speak. If it is a virtual public hearing, the PUCO will require you to register on the PUCO website a few days before the hearing. When it is your turn to speak, you will be asked to say and spell your name and address. You will also have to swear to tell 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 can ask questions too, but they will not be answered during the hearing. However, 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 and can help the PUCO Commissioners understand how their decisions affect your life:
- You can talk about how a rate increase would affect you financially;
- How satisfied you are with the quality of your utility service; or
- You could support the position of someone who spoke before you.
Submitting a public comment
You may submit a comment at the PUCO’s web site at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us by searching the appropriate case number and clicking the “File a Comment” link on the case web page. If you don’t know the case number, you can call the PUCO or the OCC. You can also 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 submit a statement or appear in person to make 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 passing a resolution to file with the PUCO or intervening in the case on behalf of their constituents;
- Work with others on a petition that can be filed with the PUCO.
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