(WJW) – Thousands of people in Northeast Ohio have seen their electric bills skyrocket.

But, relief is coming.

The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, NOPEC, announced they will automatically move customers that are enrolled in a program intended to save them money back to the utility default service.

That means customers will have lower bills for the remainder of this year and into the spring of 2023 and no action is needed.

NOPEC is a nonprofit Ohio energy aggregator that buys and supplies the electricity used by 240 Ohio communities and more than a half-million customers in the Buckeye State. Many are located in Northeast Ohio.

Since NOPEC buys in bulk for many customers, its option is often cheaper than buying from a local utility.

NOPEC is traditionally an “opt-out” service, meaning customers in its communities are automatically enrolled. But, with this change, NOPEC is temporarily removing all customers from the program.

NOPEC has recently been flooded with calls from individual customers looking to opt out of the program. The non-profit determined it was in the best interest of all of its consumers to make the change on their behalf.

“As a consumer-focused non-profit, NOPEC is always operating and advocating for what’s best for our
communities and customers,” said Chuck Keiper, NOPEC’s Executive Director in a press release. “When we looked at the price forecasts, it became increasingly apparent that the Price to Compare rate would be a better place for our customers to be through Winter 2023 to save significant money during these economically challenging times.”

Depending on each customer’s meter read date, it may take one to two billing cycles before the savings are reflected.

Will customers be re-enrolled into the savings program when prices drop?

By Spring 2023, NOPEC believes that energy markets will normalize.

At that time, all eligible customers in NOPEC member communities will be notified via mail that they will be automatically re-enrolled in NOPEC. Customers will still have the option to opt out.

Why have electric bills been higher than usual?

There are a number of reasons why prices have skyrocketed, said NOPEC spokesperson Dave Jankowski, but they all come down to supply and demand: There’s the continuing war in Ukraine; a hotter-than-usual summer, causing residents to crank their air conditioners; and ongoing supply chain instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the same kind of inflation consumers are seeing in the grocery store and at the gas pump, he said.

What about natural gas customers?

NOPEC natural gas customers are still encouraged to remain in the aggregation.

Officials say their current natural gas price is still lower than other retail offers as well as the current Dominion East Ohio and Columbia Gas default service rates.

“That will result in additional savings for our gas customers as we enter the fall and winter heating
season,” Keiper said. “Our customers should see lower gas prices than the rates offered by the utilities
and other retail competitors.”

About 75% of all NOPEC communities currently receive both electric and gas supplies through NOPEC.