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  • The PUCO Apples to Apples

    offer comparison charts

    Barb Bossart and Holly Karg Public Utilities Commission of Ohio

    Feb. 22, 2017

  • Where did the PUCO Apples to Apples charts


    A comprehensive survey completed during the natural gas

    choice pilot program in the late 1990s determine that customers were confused about “Pricing options or Price

    comparisons” and where to find “List of possible suppliers with

    contact numbers” (Case No. 98-593-GA-COI has the staff report

    including survey question (5/15/1998, Volume II. (pt. 1 of 3)).

    Information from that study and through an electric working group

    composed of representatives from staff, utilities, supplier groups

    and consumer groups also provided feedback on what information

    would be needed to make an informed decision.


  • Why Apples to Apples charts was needed


    Customers wanted one place to compare prices and find available suppliers.

    The Apples to Apples chart was designed by staff to assist customers in making an informed decision about their electric supply choice.

    To assist staff, the Commission required that suppliers provide staff with pricing information prior to marketing in Ohio.

  • The term apples to apples is a common term used in the Unites States referencing a comparison regarded as valid because it concerns two things that are fundamentally the same.

    We chose to refer to the PUCO comparisons charts using this term to signify the offers were for basic generation service, even though some specifics of the offers differed.


    What does apples to apples mean?

  • Apples to Apples comparison charts from June 2001


  • Apples to Apples comparison charts from

    June 2001, cont’d


  • Driving traffic to charts

    Utilities were required to develop an education program about electric choice and include information about the Apples to Apples comparison charts.

    Utilities were given funding for the educational program and were required to file the program with the PUCO for approval.

    PUCO rules required that the utility’s “Customer Bill of Rights” reference the Apples to Apple comparison charts and the customer’s right to alternative supply choices.


  • 8



    128,793 124,850



    99,724 101,794

    92,993 92,170 92,094



    119,555 117,193



    95,647 98,369

    89,143 88,632 88,087

    27,404 29,123

    9,204 7,733 6,496 4,826 3,627 3,452 3,925 3,332 3,853




    5,109 3,494 1,600 776 127 0 0 0

    1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

    Call Stats 1999-2009

    Real Calls




    2 per. Mov. Avg. (Real Calls)

    Due to increased education efforts, by the PUCO and electric utilities, call center activity increased.

    Handling incoming inquiries

  • Early Campaign

    Large electric choice campaign in the early 2000s:

    • Kick off news conference: Oct. 19, 2000 • Chairman held news conferences throughout the state • Toll free call center for consumers to call with questions about

    electric choice • Website: • Frequently Asked Questions page • 12-page consumer guide • Television advertisements • Newspaper ads • Billboards • Posters distributed to businesses and organizations


  • There was funding for this campaign. Just over half of the budget went to advertising, TV, radio, print and some outdoor advertisement buys and production. Roughly a quarter of the budget went to the call center and research. Another nearly quarter of the budget went to agency and account management fees.

    The educational and outreach campaign was short lived, and by mid-2000s the website was no longer active.

    Early Campaign, cont’d


  • 11

  • November 2006


  • 13

  • July 2009


  • February 2010 15

  • Working with suppliers to create useful

    comparison charts

    Subject: December 15 Electric Apples to Apples chart

    December 12, 2000

    Dear CRES Provider,

    As you are aware, any CRES provider soliciting residential customers must list a standard offer(s) on the Ohio’s Electric

    Choice Apples to Apples charts. The responsibility to populate and keep fresh residential offers falls upon the CRES

    provider. To simplify the process, you will be able to electronically post offer(s) on to the Apples to Apples charts

    through a form on PUCO’s web page. It is anticipated that the form will be available for your use on or before January 1,

    2001. In the interim, please e-mail your offer in the format shown on the attached Word document by Wednesday,

    December 13 at 1:00 p.m. in order to be included in the chart to be published Friday, December 15th. If you are not

    offering residential service at this time, please indicate such by return e-mail.

    Please e-mail your Electric Apples to Apples offer to: (614) 995-7090

    And (614) 728-5049


  • Instructions for suppliers

    Electric Apples to Apples Marketer Information

    An Electric Apples to Apples chart is published for each electric distribution company territory. The PUCO will currently accept two offers from each Marketer per EDC. The Form: Enter the appropriate information for each heading

    Electric Supplier Your company DBA name The toll free number you want customers to contact Your company web address (if applicable)

    Suppliers’ Price Offerings (per kWh) Price information in cents per kWh. If your offer is a variable rate, list the current rate, and then fully explain the offer in “Offer Details”. If your offer is “percent off “, rather than a specific price per kWh, enter “See offer details” in the Suppliers’ price offering box and fully describe the offer in the Offer Details section.

    Offer Details This field is limited to 200 characters. Provide a concise description of the offer(s) details. Details must include pricing aspects (seasonal, fixed, variable), any contingencies, availability limits, and an offer expiration date. Note: All percent off offers must refer to a discount off the “price to compare”.

    Contract Term Length of contract







    (per kWh)




    (888) XXX-XXX


    3.xx ¢/kWh


    This offer is contingent upon the availability of

    MSG* supplies. Call company for details

    about these and other product offers. Offer

    expires December 31, 2000.

    1 year

    Instructions for suppliers, cont’d

    Enter your data into the table below, make copies as needed.


  • The charts kept the format for more than a decade.

    Charts from September 2012 (nine offers were actually listed):


  • 20

  • Lesson learned


    As the industry develops be sure to have the flexibility to add new products and services.

    Seek customer and supplier feedback, especially regarding how to best introduce product offerings.

    Clear graphic presentation and location on website.

    Consistent messaging and terminology.

    Have frequently asked questions and other information in close proximity of the charts on the website for easy access.

    Have in-house information technology resources.

  • 2012 survey: what we learned

    “… respondents aware of electric choice on Ohio stated they primarily heard about electric choice through mailings, TV

    news and advertisements, newspaper stories and newspaper advertisements and through bill inserts.”

    “… respondents who have made a decision to not switch or not make a choice yet indicated the primary reason was “need for more information” …”

    aconsumer survey


  • “Just 10.5% of residents surveyed indicated they have visited the electric competition web

    pages on the PUCO website.”

    ”According to residents surveyed, the best source for neutral, unbiased information on electric choice is the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio …”

    “… 75% of residents surveyed suggested they would be very or somewhat likely to visit a new website solely dedicated to electric choice.”

    2012 survey: what we learned


  • 2012 survey: what we did

    • Determined that an educational hub was needed – where consumers can seek offers available, but also get their questions regarding energy choice answered.

    • Developed a dedicated website to provide information on energy choice in Ohio, which includes o