Ohio House bill facing opposition over potential to charge natural gas consumers more
When the bill was first introduced, it had to do with protecting gas powered cars, however the version that passed contains new language that could cost consumers.
State Representative Al Cutrona tells 21 News Reporter Sydney Canty, it's all about economic development. Gas companies need to be able to offer ready-made sites for development if they're going to attract big projects and they want you to pay for things like pipelines in advance, through a monthly fee of $1.50.
The bill puts a cap on how much the customer can be charged, but there's a catch.
The gas companies are given the freedom to charge you in advance for any upgrades and they get to say how much they think these upgrades will cost.
They also get to keep the money even if they never finish the project.
The Ohio Consumer Counsel sent a letter to Governor Mike DeWine, asking him to veto the bill.
"We're very concerned that utilities remain affordable," said J.P. Blackwood, public affairs liaison for Ohio Consumers Council. "Promoting development to attract jobs is a good thing if it has protection for consumers but we also think there needs to be a proper balance between economic development and having affordable utility rates," he said.
The Ohio Manufacturing Association also opposed the bill as a spokesperson testified in front of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities committee. OMA said natural gas utilities can collect costs from consumers even if they spent the money before the project is approved and that also goes for if the project fails.
21 News reached out to several of the bills co-sponsers for reaction to their concerns, but only Cutrona called back. The bill is currently awaiting DeWine's signature.