By Dan Gearino The Columbus Dispatch
For the first time, the city of Columbus is asking the public for opinions about companies that resell utilities in apartments and condominiums.
The City Council's Public Utilities Committee will hold a public hearing at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, convened at the request of Chairman Mike Stinziano.
"At the city level, there's an opportunity to gather information and maybe do something," he said.
That something might be city rules dealing with the utility practices.
Stinziano, a member of the Ohio House from 2011 to 2015, would prefer that the Ohio General Assembly approve rules that would apply statewide, but several proposals have failed to pass. He has been frustrated by the lack of state action.
That inaction also has troubled some Downtown residents. Leaders of the Downtown Residents' Association of Columbus have said they will be more active in pushing for limits on what they call "price gouging" for utilities.
The hearing will be in the City Council chamber, 90 W. Broad St. People who want to testify in the hearing can fill out a speaker's slip at City Hall on Thursday between 8 a.m. and the 2:30 p.m. start.
The Dispatch has written since 2013 about so-called "submeter" companies that resell utilities. Some of those unregulated companies charge a markup plus fees that can make utility bills much more expensive than they are for residents who are paying regulated prices.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio ruled in December that it has the authority to regulate submeter pricing in some cases. That investigation remains active as the panel tries to determine how much of a markup should be allowed.