COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Central Ohio property owner Don Six contacted Better Call 4 concerned after receiving two very different electric bills for two identical apartment buildings.
“So, it’s just misleading and it’s costing people a lot of money, at least if it’s compared to my situation,” Six said.
He discovered one of the two buildings that are both located along North James Road on the east side of Columbus had been switched from AEP Ohio to AEP Energy.
“My electric bill on one of them is anywhere from 30-50 percent more than it was on the other,” Six explained.
Six is responsible for paying the electric bills for the common areas of the buildings, which are the exact same dimensions.
“It was $46.17 in one building, and it was $29.08 on the other building,” he said.
Six contacted the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to try and understand why his bill was higher for the building under AEP Energy.
“And they said, we really don’t have anything to do with that,” Six said.
So, he contacted Better Call 4, and we took his concerns to American Electric Power. A spokesperson confirmed to us via email that the switch occurred as part of the Clean Energy Columbus Aggregation Program. The program was voted on and approved by residents in November of 2020, and customers can opt out of it at any time.
AEP spokesperson Scott Blake sent the following statement:
The Clean Energy Columbus program is working great. Almost 185,000 customers are being served with renewable energy under the program.
The City of Columbus and AEP Energy took a number of steps to make sure that customers knew about the program and it’s benefits, and their ability to opt-out.
— The Clean Energy Columbus campaign spent approximately $2,000,000 educating voters in the weeks before the Issue 1 vote in November, 2020.
— Additionally, AEP Energy sent over 220,000 “opt-out” letters as required by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
— For customers that did not opt-out, they also received a notification from the utility, AEP Ohio, that they had been switched to the program.
Regarding the customer who called with the bill increase issues, there are always two factors that drive bill: rates and usage.
Big jumps are almost always related to usage changes. While the apartment buildings might be the same, the usage may be different. There is a small difference in the energy cost for the standard rate to the CEC program rate, but it’s about a $2 difference for every 1000 kilowatt hours or so.
AEP Energy is happy to help a customer analyze their bill. They can call the customer service line specifically dedicated to Clean Energy Columbus; 1-888-307-0264.
Six admits he might have missed the notification.
“If they sent me a notice, if it wasn’t an invoice, I probably just threw it in the trash,” Six explained.
He also informed all his tenants that they can opt out of using AEP Energy without penalty.
“It wasn’t a whole lot of money to me, but there’s an awful lot of residents in town that aren’t as fortunate as I am,” Six said.
After his experience, he said it is important for property owners and tenants to open all mail and pay close attention to any changes on utility bills.
“They’re paying a bigger percentage of their income for utilities, and they shouldn’t have to,” Six said.