CLEVELAND — After NOPEC customers' energy bills doubled over the summer, community leaders questioned why it took so long for the aggregator to switch services.
NOPEC, or Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, is an energy aggregator that serves more than 240 communities, seeking the lowest prices for its customers.
With more than 500,000 customers counting on NOPEC to keep prices low, when their energy bills skyrocketed in July, questions arose.
Many of those questions were asked by local leaders at a Ohio Consumers Power Alliance meeting on Tuesday.
"This is not something that I would be willing to subject my residents to again after this experience," said Cleveland Heights Mayor Khalil Seren.
Mayor Seren says his residents were let down this summer.
"In this case, there was an immense failure that caused, I hope, not irreparable financial harm to many of my residents," said Mayor Seren.
Lakewood city council member Tristan Rader sided with Seren, saying the leaders of NOPEC failed their customers. "We as city leaders need to call upon NOPEC and make changes to prevent these types of things from happening in the future," he added.
NOPEC released a statement to 3News Tuesday afternoon, saying they weren't aware of the community meeting.
"NOPEC was not made aware of today’s press conference, nor were we approached by the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance regarding the questions raised at this afternoon’s event.
We have clearly communicated to our member Community Leaders and customers via emails, letters, our website, social and mass media channels, that utility customers across the nation have been seeing higher bills as energy markets experience unprecedented price increases because of escalating global conflict and hotter than normal weather driving up demand. NOPEC is not immune to this inflationary spike, putting current electricity prices in contrast to the competitive pricing NOPEC customers have enjoyed over the past 20+ years.
When we looked at the price forecasts, it became increasingly apparent that the Price to Compare rate would be in the best interest of our customers. We quickly took proactive steps to return our electric customers to the lower-priced utility default service for the remainder of this year and into the Spring of 2023. Other aggregators in Ohio have experienced similar price spikes over the past few months and have also allowed their customers to transition to the utility default service.
While individual customers who previously contacted NOPEC could drop to the lower utility rate at no charge, NOPEC decided it was in all our consumers’ best interest to make the wholesale change and temporarily transition its more than a half-million customers to the utility default service en masse.
As a consumer-focused non-profit, NOPEC operates and advocates for what’s best for our communities and customers. We know that households everywhere are struggling with higher bills, and we had the option to do something to help our customers receive a lower electric rate. We chose that option and are doing what is right for consumers during these economically challenging times."
NOPEC is scheduled to have a board meeting Wednesday and community leaders, including Mayor Seren, hope to learn more about NOPEC's actions.
Mayor Seren says all energy options are on the table after this summer.