Students might see a slight increase on their upcoming electricity bill, due to AEP’s new Electric Security Plan (ESP) starting this September.
Residential customers in Ohio, such as students in the University District that are using an average of 1,000 kWh per month, will see an increase on average of about $7.85 on their total monthly bill.
Although the electric bill will rise, AEP officials have said customers will benefit from the change.
“We have worked hard to minimize bill impacts on customers as we transition to a competitive market model,” said Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, in an AEP release. “Customers will benefit during this transition by having fixed generation rates and a greater ability to shop for a competitive price on their power generation service.”
This enables customers to avoid or lower such an increase, because they can look up the shopping rate on their AEP bill and switch to a cheaper rate offered by other providers.
Some students, such as Hannah Potter, who uses an automatic payment plan, didn’t know about the possible increase to their bill.
“I don’t even know how much my monthly bill is,” said Potter, a third-year in business. “I just have them take it out of my account.”
Ohio State senior energy adviser Scott Potter said that this change has a lot to do with small businesses in Ohio complaining about their 40 percent increase of electricity costs in February. The new rate plan spreads the new rates among all customers, such as big users like OSU and smaller residential users.
“Ohio State used to pay 2 1/2 cents per kWh, we now pay 6 1/2, so in 10 years, we’ve gone up 300 percent, and it’s still the cheapest in the nation,” Scott Potter said.
OSU has made efforts to educate students, especially those living in residence halls, about their unconscious use of electricity and try to bring awareness to their daily electricity usage.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, we did a presentation to one of the residence halls, and we talked about things such as unplugging or turning off your computer, your charging units, your phone, your iPad, all those things,” said Gina Langen, director of communications at the Office of Energy and Environment. “When they are not being charged, unplug it, because it’s phantom usage.”
Phantom usage is when an electronic device is connected to an outlet and keeps drawing power, even though it is not in use. One example of phantom usage, Scott Potter said, is satellite TV.
“If you have Direct TV, it uses more power when it’s turned off than when it’s on,” Potter said. “When you are not watching TV, it’s using more power to look for a signal, but when you turn it on, it no longer has to look, because you are watching something.”
Rick Van den Hengel, a third-year in actuarial science, said he is not happy about the increase on his next bill. He said that more than ever before he will try to be cautious about unnecessary energy usage.
“I always try to unplug my laptop and turn it off when I am not using it, and the same with my TVs,” Van den Hengel said. “What makes it difficult is that it is one of those things where you don’t directly see the results, like you don’t think about turning of the light, because it can save you a couple of pennies at the end of the month.”
Scott Potter said he thinks the increase won’t affect a lot of students, because many students live in dorms and don’t pay their bill directly. And if AEP’s increasing rates stay small, customers won’t feel the affect as much.
“As a nation, we haven’t felt the pressure yet, electric has been orbit free,” Scott Potter said. “It really doesn’t take much to be sufficient, just turn down your air conditioning. Two degrees is big. For every degree you can drop in a typical home, you can knock 6 to 7 percent off your electricity bill.”
The university is taking proactive steps by installing new and more efficient air conditioning and heating systems, and Langen said she hopes students will do the same and educate themselves on energy-saving solutions to become “green.”