It has been more than 35 years since Congressman Sherrod Brown, then a 20-something state representative, brought forward a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that would create the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.
In the wake of an energy crisis and rising utility prices, the legislature had the foresight to understand the need for an office that would protect, educate and advocate for residential utility customers.
Amended Substitute Senate Bill 94 was the vehicle that established the “Consumers’ Counsel to represent residential utility consumers in rate increase cases and complaint cases before the PUCO and the Courts,” according to a plan of action written by Ohio’s first Consumers’ Counsel, Bill Spratley. Substitute House Bill 1465 appropriated a $750,000 budget for the office to operate during its first six months. With this budget, the average residential consumer paid approximately 17 cents – based on a residential consumer spending an estimated $900 per year for utility services – for the services of the newborn state agency. Today that number is less than 4 cents for every $100 a consumer spends annually on its utility services.
Effective on September 1, 1976, the legislation greatly changed the laws governing the ratemaking method for Ohio utilities. Not only did this legislation create the Consumers’ Counsel but authorized consideration of consumer service complaints in rate cases and the ordering of improvements in service included in rate of return.
There will be additional information posted here about the history of our advocate’s office and the benefits achieved over the years. The OCC looks forward to sharing some of these historical moments with all of you.
|Next: Foundation of advocacy set with first Consumers’ Counsel|
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