Ohioans may spend more on electricity this summer as the weather warms up and utilities contend with a surge in natural gas prices.
Standard electric generation rates will increase beginning next month based on prices that were set in the latest auction for utilities. Ohio allows consumers to shop for their energy suppliers, but those who don't are charged a default rate negotiated through the bidding process.
Reminder: Your electric bill represents the total costs of supply and delivery.
Here's what you need to know about rate increases.
How much will electricity cost?
The proposed generation hikes vary by utility and must first be confirmed by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
American Electric Power in Columbus, for example, is poised to increase its rate by about 2 cents per kilowatt hour. That means people using 1,000 kilowatt-hours each month would spend $18 more on their bill.
In Southwest Ohio, the average Duke Energy customer burning 1,000 kilowatt-hours will see that portion of their bill rise from $116.50 in May to $125.25 in June. That's an extra $8.75, or a 7.5% increase.
Customers of FirstEnergy's Ohio utilities – Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and The Illuminating Company – can expect to pay $3 more per month at 750 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Those who use AES Ohio for their electric supplier will see the most dramatic change. The utility's rate will increase by 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the Dayton Daily News, doubling the amount people pay each month.
Consumers can visit energychoice.ohio.gov to compare different suppliers. These rates will be in place through May 2023.
Why are prices increasing?
Regulators and utility officials largely attributed the change to a volatile natural gas market, which powers electricity generation. The war in Ukraine, coupled with supply chain problems, have increased the cost of producing electricity.
"Natural gas and coal prices, two primary fuel sources for electricity generation, are at prices we have not seen in more than a decade and are beginning to impact electric prices across the nation," AEP spokesman Scott Blake said. "As long as global energy supplies remain tight, we expect prices to remain higher than in recent years."
How can I save money?
The new rates will arrive just as the weather warms and people turn up their air conditioning. Still, there are several ways to conserve energy and shave a few bucks off your electric bill, according to Ohio utility companies:
Set your thermostat as high as comfortable or turn it up when you leave home. Programmable or smart thermostats can help you more easily regulate the temperature.
Close curtains or blinds on any windows facing the sun.
Seal leaks with caulk or weather stripping.
Use LED light bulbs.
Run large appliances such as the dishwasher or washing machine at night.
Make sure your air conditioner and furnace filters are clean.
Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Alexander Coolidge contributed.