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Natural gas led the way in Ohio energy deregulation, opening for competition from gas companies beginning in 1997. The Ohio Public Utilities Commission gave licenses to a limited number of gas companies, namely utilities.
Each utility had a service territory covering part of Ohio where it was responsible for building and maintaining the pipelines and other infrastructure needed to safely deliver natural gas to homes and businesses. Essentially, the utilities bought the natural gas from national natural gas producers directly from the wellhead. And Ohio residential and commercial customers had no choice which natural gas company sold them natural gas.
But when the federal government opened access to interstate pipeline transmission of natural gas, it created a new competitive wholesale gas market, and at the same time, Ohio and other states also separated the job of delivering natural gas from selling gas. Gradually, a whole new group of companies evolved that were devoted to getting the best price on the wholesale natural gas market and selling directly to consumers, both residential and commercial.
J.D. Power and Associates, the company best known for its ratings of cars, also has jumped into the deregulated natural gas business. For a decade, J.D. Power has surveyed residential customers in deregulated states to gauge their satisfaction with their natural gas providers. Ohio has been part of those surveys.
In the 2011 survey, two out of every five residents reported their financial circumstances had deteriorated in the previous year. Nonetheless, the customers reported natural gas companies – in Ohio and elsewhere – had improved customer service. This is encouraging, considering J.D. Power measures six factors for satisfaction, which it lists in order of importance as billing and payment, price, corporate citizenship, communications, customer service and field service.
But the message from consumers is the way to stay satisfied is using competition to get the best price and plan – whether you put priority on green energy, the latest smart technology for energy efficiency or a company that invests a lot of resources in the community.
Switching gas providers in Ohio is simple. Once you have an account with the natural gas distribution utility in your area, you are free to switch to another company to supply your natural gas commodity that may better fit your needs. OhioGasCompanies.com can help you compare natural gas retailers and utilities so you can get a better idea of what is available in your area and what choices are best for you and the environment.