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While many Ohio residents have found lower electricity prices because of the electricity deregulation policy in the state, many others still deal with a utility that has complete control over their energy. The Columbus Dispatch reports that much of the blame lies in the convoluted process by which the state has slowly moved toward deregulation.
Electricity deregulation is intended to provide lower electricity rates by forcing electricity providers into competition for customers. Utilities, which traditionally did not have to compete to retain the customers in their service areas, would then simply transport the electricity.
However, Ohio decided to make the shift toward competitive markets slowly, deregulating only the smaller utility companies first, with portions of the larger electricity companies opening up in later years. Every few years these utilities would negotiate rate proposals that would define this process and set electricity prices for residents.
While these are meant to be open, the Dispatch reports that much of the negotiations with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio actually goes on behind closed doors and does little to serve the public interest.
Through the third quarter of 2011, PUCO reports that Columbus Southern Power Company and Ohio Power Company, the two largest utilities in the state, had seen only 2.75 percent and 0.59 percent of their customers switch electricity providers, respectively.