This summer 550,000 residents of Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) communities saw their electricity bills more than double without warning. But why?
NOPEC blames Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and “hotter than normal weather” over the summer months as the culprits for their sky-high rates even though other communities in Ohio are paying much lower rates under the same conditions. However, other providers anticipated this issue and were able to mitigate these type of increases.
In July, NOPEC suggested consumers opt-out of its aggregation program and has now suspended its aggregation program until spring 2023.
Critical information and questions need to be answered on behalf of residents that rely on NOPEC for their energy, a competency that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is calling into question.
Here are a few articles discussing this issue.
NOPEC in the news
NOPEC facing existential threat from regulators, Dan Shingler, Crain's Cleveland, September 8, 2022
State regulators: NOPEC must defend its right to remain an electric aggregator in Ohio, Sean McCDonnell, cleveland.com, September 8, 2022
NOPEC jettisons most of its customers in tough market, Dan Shingler, Crain's Cleveland, August 25, 2022
Lowering energy bills: NOPEC temporarily moving 550,000 customers to utility defaults, Sean McCDonnell, cleveland.com, August 24, 2022
Questions to Help Bring NOPEC Customers Out of the Dark
- What would NOPEC say to customers who have experienced huge, unaffordable bill increases while other Ohioans participating in aggregation programs have seen bill savings, especially in this moment when so many vulnerable community members are struggling to make ends meet?
- Why was so much of NOPEC’s purchasing tied to the volatile natural gas market? Does NOPEC plan to purchase more renewable energy to better hedge against price fluctuation?
- Why did other aggregators in Ohio get this right and NOPEC got it so wrong?
- Do we anticipate leadership changes or organizational reforms in response to this blunder that is impacting so many Ohioans?
- When did you know the price per kwh was 12¢ and what steps did you take to inform and protect consumers? When did you take these steps?
- When and how did NOPEC inform their 240 member communities of their decision to switch customers off NOPEC and onto the standard service offering?
- NOPEC leadership forecasts spring 2023 energy prices to be more affordable for customers. If they can forecast into next spring, why couldn’t they forecast this summer’s steep prices and avoid them or at least warn consumers?
- How does the suspension of NOPEC’s aggregation program affect the terms of its contracts with communities?
- Why was so much of NOPEC's purchasing tied to the volatile natural gas market? Does NOPEC plan to purchase more renewable energy to better hedge against price fluctuation?
- If the PUCO revokes NOPEC’s certificate to aggregate, what happens to its contracts with member communities? Should member communities shop around to other aggregators?
Ohio Consumers Power Alliance questions NOPEC ‘green’ program announcement
In late 2021, NOPEC CEO Chuck Keiper announced a questionable “green” renewable program for their member cities, under a very short end-of-year deadline. Ohio Consumers Power Alliance (OCPA) raised a lot of questions at that time.
Renewable energy purchasing is a great opportunity to find the best deal that serves the best interests of your community.
Not all providers are created equal. Here are some questions to ask NOPEC before joining their program:
- Is NOPEC’s plan right for my community?
Every city has different needs. NOPEC’s one size fits all program doesn’t take the unique needs of your community into account. Ask the market if it can meet your needs. If NOPEC has the best offer, great! If not, now you know that you have a better option.
- Why the rush?
Instead of giving cities sufficient time to deliberate and get public input from the community, NOPEC is forcing local governments to quickly pass a resolution to opt-in to a “green energy” program by the end of the year. Any equitable partner would create a constructive exchange with cities and residents to build a program and launch on a timeline that makes sense for each city. Instead, NOPEC is rushing cities into a deal they know works for them, but does not work best for your community and your residents.
- Where is the energy coming from?
At least for now, the clean energy that NOPEC is offering is wholly supported by renewable energy credits (RECs) from Florida based NextEra. Purchasing these credits doesn’t help spur clean energy jobs in Ohio.
Want to advocate for the best renewable energy prices for your residents?
Explore the market for renewable energy and look at other examples.
Green-e Certified RECs
5.64 cents per kWh
Ohio-based solar array, local jobs, municipal accounts
4.95 cents per kWh
On-grid (PJM) RECs, Ohio-based goal, community grant program
5.499 cents per kWh
Green-e Certified RECs
5.64 cents per kWh
National wind RECs
5.186 cents per kWh
Ask your residents what they want to see in their aggregation program. Local, in-state, or PJM grid generation? Energy burden relief? Other community grant programs? Home weatherization assistance?
Ask experts, suppliers, and interested stakeholders to come present to your city council on the priorities of your residents.
Work with local and state consumer and environmental advocates to put together a request for offers for a 100% renewable energy aggregation program.
Adopt the program through city council, file with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and notify residents of your new aggregation program.