Public utility rates have increased in Ohio significantly in the past five years. Utility rate increase applications escalated 1,540 percent in 1975 alone when seventy-seven rate increase requests were filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). On January 20, 1979, Consumer Counsel William A. Spratley, from the office of the Consumers’ Counsel of Ohio, expressed concern over the massive utility rate increases. Spratley notified Alfred E. Kahn, Chairman of the Council on Wage and Price Stability, and complained that PUCO was not holding Ohio utilities to the 9.5 percent annual maximum price increase recommended by the Council to combat inflation.
The General Assembly responded to the utility rate increases by passing House Bill 156 in June of 1979. H.B. 156 amends current law and it requires gas, natural gas, and electric light utilities to negotiate uniform residential rate schedules with municipalities which so choose to negotiate. The bill permits complaints to be filed with PUCO by qualified electors from municipalities that negotiate with a utility. The public utility may also file a complaint with PUCO concerning any rate ordinances passed by municipal corporations when the utility believes such rates are unfair. The bill, therefore, provides a remedy to the utility and the consumer in that both have the opportunity to complain to PUCO. Thus, the underlying principle of House Bill 156 is to make area-wide uniformity in rate-making agreements accessible to municipal corporations that elect for uniform rates with the hope that group negotiations will yield more equitable rate schedules. It is anticipated that the bill will have an important impact on public interest and municipal attorneys throughout Ohio.
Smoot, Douglas A.
"H.B. 156: Achieving Uniform Utility Rate Schedules for Municipalities,"
University of Dayton Law Review: Vol. 5:
2, Article 15.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udlr/vol5/iss2/15