What is the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC)?
NOPEC is a non-profit aggregation with members serving over 200 communities in 13 counties located in Northeast Ohio. Formed in 2000 as a council of governments, NOPEC uses bulk buying to bring discounted electricity and natural gas to residents and businesses in its member communities. NOPEC currently represents customers in Cuyahoga, Lake, Ashtabula, Lorain, Huron, Summit, Medina, Portage, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mahoning, Seneca and Geauga counties. NOPEC is the largest such public energy aggregation in the United States.
What is the value in NOPEC for me?
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.
Who is in charge of NOPEC?
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 county in the NOPEC service area. In addition, the General Assembly elects a chair and vice chair.
What does all this cost?
NOPEC receives no public funds, and its member communities are not charged any dues or fees. The chair 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 suppliers. The budget is approved once a year by the General Assembly.
How do I join NOPEC?
If you live in a NOPEC member community, you are automatically included, unless you choose not to be. Ohio has what is called an “opt-out” program. 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, and every three years for every eligible electric consumer.
What if I did not receive an opt-out notice?
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 (PIPP)or are not current in a payment plan with the utility. Customers who did not receive a notice and want to join NOPEC should call:
For natural gas 1-855-667-3201 (1-855-NOPEC01) For electricity 1-800-292-9284
What if I change my mind?
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.
What is the difference between NOPEC and other energy suppliers?
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, NOPEC is 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.
How can I compare NOPEC to offers from other energy suppliers?
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.
Who will deliver my electricity or gas once I choose a new supplier?
If you choose a new supplier, your local electric or natural gas utility will continue to deliver the power or natural 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.
I am currently with another supplier but would like to join the NOPEC program. What are my options?
You should check with your current supplier to determine any early termination fees that may be a part of your contract with them. If you decide to leave before the end date of your contract you may be subject to those fees.
Prior to the end of your current agreement, you can notify your supplier that you will not be renewing. At that point, simply call NOPEC at 1-855-667-3201 to get enrollment information.
My neighbor works for the local utility company. Will my communities’ NOPEC membership cause him/her to lose their job?
No. Governmental Aggregation programs such as NOPEC’s have no impact on the local utility or its employees. In fact, many employees of the utilities are active members of NOPEC.
Why do I have to do this?
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the federal government decided to end monopolies and pave the way for a competitive marketplace in the energy industry. A competitive market was believed to offer more discipline in determining business practices and pricing than regulation. Energy deregulation happened in a phased manner across different states and Ohio, too, was set to witness a change in the energy scenario.
What is governmental aggregation?
Under governmental aggregation, local officials bring citizens and small businesses together to gain group buying power for the purchase of competitively priced electricity from a retail electric generation or natural gas supplier certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
Can I remain on budget billing?
Yes, for the electric program you can remain on budget billing; however, the budget billing program does not apply to your charges from FirstEnergy Solutions/NOPEC – only to charges from the electric utility. Your total charges from First Energy Solutions/NOPEC will fluctuate from month to month according to your usage.
For the natural gas program, you can remain on budget billing for service charges and the charges for the NextEra/NOPEC natural gas supply.