Ohio’s Winter Reconnect Order: How it Can Help Keep Your Lights and Gas On

Monday November 14, 2011
Posted at 14:34
Tags: ohio

If you live in Ohio, your electricity and natural gas are each delivered by one of several Ohio energy utilities. All the public utilities in the state are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The PUCO ensures adequate availability of safe and reliable electric and natural gas service and regulates things such as rates and terms of service for utilities.

What is the Winter Reconnect Order?

As part of its duties, the PUCO issues the Winter Reconnect Order on an annual basis to all Ohio electric and natural gas utilities. The order provides a measure of protection for residential customers who have been disconnected from their electric or natural gas service or are being threatened with disconnection during the heating season. The order allows customers to pay a designated amount to keep their service from being disconnected or to restore their service in cases where it has been disconnected.

When is the Winter Reconnect Order in effect?

The Winter Reconnect Order is in effect during the heating season, which lasts from mid-October through mid-April.

How many times can I use the Winter Reconnect Order?

Electric and natural gas customers are allowed to use the Winter Reconnect Order to maintain or restore electric or natural gas service once during each heating season. The PUCO does not provide additional protections for maintaining or restoring utility service beyond the first use of the Winter Reconnect Order in a given heating season.

How much does the Winter Reconnect Order cost?

For maintaining utility service — To use the Winter Reconnect Order to maintain utility service, residential customers are required to pay a maximum of $175, which is credited to outstanding balances.

For restoring utility service — If utility service has already been disconnected, residential customers can restore service by paying a maximum of $175, which is credited to outstanding balances, and possibly a reconnection fee of no more than $36, if the PUCO has authorized a utility to charge a reconnection fee.

For requesting new utility service — For residential customers requesting new electric or natural gas service, and who have no previous balance with their utility, service may be established under the Winter Reconnect Order by paying $175 rather than paying the required security deposit. The remaining balance of the security deposit will then be added to the following month’s bill.

Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) customers — If a customer is on the PIPP Plus plan, or wishes to enroll, the customer is responsible for making an additional $50 payment if they owe the utility more than $175.

Who is eligible for protection under the Winter Reconnect Order?

Every Ohio electric and natural gas residential customer is eligible to use the Winter Reconnect Order, regardless of income. For customers with multiple properties, the order may only be used at the property where the customer resides.

How do I sign up for the Winter Reconnect Order?

To use the Winter Reconnect Order, contact your utility and follow its procedures. You may use your address to search for your utilities and their contact information here.

Sources

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, “Winter Reconnect Order: Maintain Electric and Natural Gas Service.”

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