If you live in Dominion East Ohio’s service territory, you may be able to participate in the Energy Choice program, which allows you to choose which company you buy your natural gas from. Other customers in the gas company’s service territory may not be eligible for Energy Choice. Regardless, Dominion East will deliver natural gas to your home, even if you buy it from someone else, and will charge you a separate distribution rate for natural gas delivery that is unrelated to the price you pay for natural gas or who you buy it from.
If you can participate in the Energy Choice program and still choose to buy your natural gas from Dominion East, the utility will bill you for the gas you use, called the supply charge, under its Standard Choice Offer (SCO) rate.
If you participate in the Energy Choice Program and choose to buy your natural gas from an another certified natural gas supplier, the utility will still be responsible for sending you your bill, but your supply charge will be based on the rate you’ve signed up for with your new certified gas supplier.
If you’re not eligible to participate in Energy Choice, or are a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) customer with Dominion East, the utility will bill you for the gas you use under its Standard Service Offer (SSO) rate.
Both the SCO and SSO rates are set each February as the result of two auctions to secure natural gas supplies for customers who don’t participate in Energy Choice. SCO customers will be assigned a natural gas supplier every April. Although the supplier may change, and a different name may appear on your bill, you’ll pay the same monthly rate as all other SCO customers.
Both SCO and SSO customers pay variable rates. Their rates are identical and change each month based on the price of natural gas at the end of the month on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), which is a sort of stock market for energy commodities like electricity and natural gas. Tacked on to this price, called the NYMEX month-end settlement price, is a retail price adjustment, or fee, that is determined during the auctions in February. Additionally, SCO customers will pay a county sales tax and SSO customers will pay an excise tax.
An SCO customer may choose to buy natural gas from an alternative supplier at any time, after which they’ll be referred to as an Energy Choice customer. Energy Choice customers will pay a rate for natural gas based on the plan they sign up for with their new supplier. If an Energy Choice customer’s contract expires or their supplier goes out of business — and the customer does not choose a new supplier — Dominion East will either assign the customer to an alternative supplier at the supplier’s Monthly Variable Rate or, if the customer prefers, place the customer on the utility’s SCO rate.
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, “Dominion East Ohio Standard Choice Offer and Standard Service Offer.”