Like all public utility companies in Ohio, AES (formerly DP&L) makes arrangements once a year to procure electric generation at a market-based auction.
For AES, that annual date came around at the end of April, just as inflation spiked and natural gas prices rose dramatically.
During the auction each year, wholesale suppliers bid to serve AES customers their generation supply needs, and pricing is based upon market conditions on the day of the auction.
The latest pricing is reflective of increases not seen in decades, according to AES Ohio, which passes on the market prices from the auction to the Standard Service Offer (SSO) customers. This part of the bill is separate from the transmission and distribution charges.
SSO customers will see their generation rates increased by $0.061 per kWh, from $0.048 to $0.109 effective June 1, 2022, for one year.
If a customer is currently participating in the AES SSO rate structure but desires to find a better rate, public utility customers can attempt to find less expensive generation on the state of Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Energy Choice Ohio “Apples to Apples” website energychoice.ohio.gov/ApplestoApples.
On this site, customers can opt into agreements to purchase the generated power from other PUCO-approved suppliers other than AES, but AES will continue to service the customer and deliver the electricity. The website offers a variety of options for generation rates, including fixed and variable rates, length of agreement term, potential termination fees and potential monthly fees. To shop for prices, customers in Champaign County should choose the AES utility category header and then compare prices.
The market-based auction for generation is separate from AES Ohio’s investment and rates for transmission and distribution, periodic changes to which are subject to case approval by the PUCO.
Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative
Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative users in Champaign County experience a different format on their bill, and the co-op strives to maintain stability during wide variations in prices that public utilities like AES are presently facing. A cooperative is a group of people acting together to meet the common needs and aspirations of its members, sharing ownership and making decisions democratically.
Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., is a not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric distribution utility headquartered in Piqua with a district facility in Urbana. Its services are available to specific rural locations, not to all Champaign County sites. AES serves the remainder of customers not served by Pioneer.
The cooperative serves more than 16,700 residential, commercial and large industrial members throughout rural Miami, Champaign and Shelby counties, as well as portions of the eight surrounding counties — Mercer, Auglaize, Logan, Union, Madison, Clark, Montgomery and Darke.
Co-op users are actually members of their utility service rather than customers of a for-profit public utility. These members are not eligible for Apples to Apples shopping for power generation rates via PUCO and they do not participate in community aggregation buying pools that some local governments offer to voters for consideration on election ballots.
According to Elizabeth Connor of Pioneer, Buckeye Power, Inc. is Ohio’s generation and transmission cooperative. Owned and governed by the cooperatives it serves, Buckeye Power has a diverse portfolio of base load and peaking facilities, outfitted with best-in-class environmental controls. The diverse portfolio includes clean coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, and biodigesters along with peak power demand control.
She explained Buckeye’s Cardinal Generating Station in Brilliant, Ohio provides the majority of Pioneer’s power and offers stable prices. Market purchases account for only 7.6% of Pioneer’s Fiscal Year 2022 power supply.
“Our prices are more stable for our members,” Connor said. “We strive for high reliability for our members which means we complete preventative maintenance on an ongoing basis.”