With retail electricity market competition heating up in Ohio, utilities are having to go up against energy providers that typically offer many incentives in addition to competitive electricity rates, Electric Light and Power reports.

To help customer satisfaction, American Electric Power Co. Inc. (AEP) is encouraging its customers to pay bills through online payment methods, which make the process more convenient and simple than older methods. The company sends out more than 51 million bills to 5 million customers in 11 states each year, making billing a tedious process.

By using e-billing techniques, the company hopes to streamline the process, resulting in overall better efficiency and more satisfied customers. Following a heavy push to encourage its customers to pay online, AEP experienced a 24 percent increase in website visits, the media outlet stated.

AEP has been in a heated competition with retail energy provider FirstEnergy to attract new customers, which Marty Berkowitz, a spokesman for the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, said is a great thing for the state.

"To us, this is indicative that competition is increasing," Berkowitz said, which could result in lower costs, according to the Toledo Blade