Q: What is NOPEC?
A: NOPEC is a non-profit aggregation composed of 134 communities in Northeast Ohio. Formed in 2000, NOPEC uses bulk buying to bring discounted electricity and natural gas to residents and businesses in its member communities. NOPEC represents customers in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, Summit, Huron and Trumbull counties. NOPEC is the largest such public energy aggregation in the United States.
Q: What is the value in NOPEC for me?
A: The theory behind public aggregation is simple: By using bulk purchasing power, greater savings can be passed on to individual consumers. By joining together, consumers in NOPEC communities gain the ability to utilize a team of experienced professionals to negotiate for better prices and protections. NOPEC ensures that communities have a voice in determining that future market changes benefit consumers. Large groups of communities such as NOPEC enjoy substantial leverage in making these determinations. Without an organization like NOPEC, consumers would be left to decide on their own which supplier to choose, and would be at the mercy of the supplier.
Q: Who is in charge of this group?
A: Ultimately, the consumers themselves, through the views they express to their local elected officials. NOPEC is governed by a General Assembly, made up of one representative from each community. From this group, a ten-member Board of Directors is elected, with one representative from each of the ten counties in the NOPEC service area. In addition, the General Assembly elects a chairman and vice chairman.
Q: What does all this cost?
A: NOPEC receives no public funds, and its member communities are not charged any dues or fees. The chairman and members of the Board of Directors serve without compensation. NOPEC’s administrative expenses, such as the cost of the opt-out mailings, staffing and expenses are paid by fees from the energy supplier. The budget is approved once a year by the General Assembly.
Q: How do I join the buying group?
A: If you live in a NOPEC community, you are automatically included, unless you choose not to be. Ohio has what is called an “opt-out” procedure. This means that all eligible customers of an aggregated community become part of the buying group unless they take specific action to opt out of the aggregation. Opt-out notices are sent to every eligible natural gas consumer every two years. Under Ohio law (SB221) electricity customers may receive an opt-out notice every three years.
Q: What if I did not receive an opt-out notice?
A: There are several reasons why some customers may not have received an opt-out notice:
- Customers may have previously signed a notice from the utility that prohibits them from releasing a customer’s information to independent suppliers.
- Customers may be under contract with another supplier and are not eligible.
- Customers may have been inadvertently excluded from the database acquired from the utility. Customers also may be ineligible because they are on a Percentage of Income Payment Plan or are not current in a payment plan with the utility. Customers who did not receive a notice and want to join the program should call NOPEC at 1-855-667-3201.
Q: What if I change my mind?
A: All consumers who do not opt out are enrolled for a period of up to two years (gas) or up to three years (electricity), after which they will be given another opportunity to opt-out without having to pay a cancellation fee. Consumers who wish to leave before the end of the gas program may do so without charge. Consumers who wish to leave the electric program before the end of NOPEC’s contract period will be subject to a cancellation fee.
Q: What is the difference between NOPEC and other energy suppliers?
A: Unlike the many private, for-profit companies now marketing in Ohio, NOPEC is a public aggregation of local governments, with no goal other than delivering both savings and stability to the consumers it represents. To that end, we are concerned with a long-term approach to the energy market as well as short-term savings. NOPEC recognizes that long-term savings for consumers will result from regulatory changes and new laws that must be passed, and is dedicated to representing the interests of its consumers in seeking those changes.
Private, for-profit energy suppliers are focused on short-term offers. Their positions on regulatory changes and laws likely will be aimed at their own bottom lines rather than the interests of consumers.
Q: How can I compare NOPEC to offers from other energy suppliers?
A: One of the hallmarks of energy deregulation is that each consumer is free to make his or her own decisions, and all the factors involved should be carefully weighed. The difference in purpose between NOPEC and private suppliers is certainly one of those factors. In terms of pricing, consumers should be wary of gimmicks and “loss leader” giveaways, in which short-term savings are promised, with no long-range guarantees of continued savings. Customers can view gas and electric pricing for NOPEC on the pricing pages. To compare with other competitor’s offerings go to the Public utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) “apples to apples” chart available at www.puco.ohio.gov.
Q: Who will deliver my electricity or gas once I choose a new supplier?
A: If you choose a new supplier, your local electric or natural gas utility will continue to deliver the power or gas to your home or business. Your local utility will also continue to maintain and repair the poles and wires. You should continue to call your local electric utility if your power goes out. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will still oversee the safety and reliability of your service.