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To Market, To Market … For Some High-Priced Electricity?

April 4, 2008

Columbus, OH – Energy marketing companies say they want to bring more competition to Ohio's electricity market, but a state energy watchdog says consumers could end up getting zapped. The companies are calling for a change in state law to remove regulations and allow more marketers to compete for Ohio customers. They say it will allow more consumer choice, and the competition will bring down electricity rates.

Dave Rinebolt with Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy isn't so sure. He says that when the same thing has been done in other states, consumer prices have shot up.

"States that have deregulated, that have what's called 'competition,' have rates going up higher, and overall higher rates, than states that have opted to continue regulation."

Rinebolt says a bill currently before the Ohio House of Representatives would allow energy marketers to compete, but only if they are able to provide lower prices than ratepayers currently get.

"Basically, we can't trust the market right now, because the market hasn't delivered. And energy is too important to leave to a dysfunctional market."

He points to the role of Enron and other energy marketers in California's energy crisis a few years ago as the most famous example. Energy marketers are virtually unregulated, he says, and many of them have been involved in major complaints involving market manipulation, overcharging of customers and violations of environmental laws.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OH