Ohio State Rep Ronald Gerberry (D-Austintown) has introduced a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives that would create a so-called Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Advisory Group. The group would consist of all electric distribution utilities and natural gas companies operating in the state and other stakeholders interested in advising utilities about energy efficiency and peak-demand reduction programs required by Ohio Senate Bill 221.
Under Ohio House Bill 443, a utility with a proposed energy efficiency or peak-demand reduction program would have to submit it to the advisory group for review before filing it with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The group would vote on the plan and submit the record of the vote to the PUCO. At that point, the utility would have clearance to file the plan with the Commission. A majority vote of the advisory group would not be necessary to file the plan with the PUCO, but individual members of the group would able to file comments on the plan that would be docketed at the Commission.
Stakeholder members of the advisory group may include:
- Any person who has intervened in an electric distribution utility standard service offer application proceeding for which the PUCO has issued a final opinion and order;
- Any person who has intervened in a natural gas company rate case application proceeding for which the PUCO has issued a final opinion and order; or
- Any other person who, after petitioning the Commission, receives approval.
The bill proposes the hiring of an independent facilitator with no ties to utility companies to lead the advisory group.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel helped craft the bill and supports its passage. Consumers' Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander contends that a transparent and collaborative process would create more cost-effective and consumer-friendly energy efficiency and peak-demand reduction programs than programs developed by utilities on their own.