Questions & Answers about Columbia Gas of Ohio's Standard Choice Offer (SCO)
Q: What is the Standard Choice Offer?
A: The Standard Choice Offer, or SCO, is a regulated price available to customers who don’t participate in Columbia Gas of Ohio’s Customer CHOICEsm program.
Q: Do I have to choose a supplier?
A: No. Customers do not have to shop or sign up to receive gas from an SCO supplier.
Q: I've heard that Columbia Gas is going to pick a supplier for me. Is that true?
A: Suppliers compete for the right to serve Columbia's SCO customers at an annual gas supply auction. SCO customers will see the name of the supplier serving them on their bill. All SCO suppliers will charge the same regulated price for natural gas. Your neighbor or a friend across town may have a different SCO supplier but each SCO customer pays the same rate.
Q: How will I know who my SCO supplier is?
A: SCO customers will see that information on page 2 of their Columbia Gas of Ohio bill. Your SCO supplier may change each April following the annual gas supply auction.
Q: I purchase my gas from a CHOICE® supplier. Does the Standard Choice Offer affect me?
A: No. You will continue to receive gas from the CHOICE® supplier you selected.
Q: I participate in my community’s natural gas aggregation program. Does the Standard Choice Offer affect me?
A: No. You will continue to receive gas from the CHOICE® supplier your community selected to serve its aggregation program.
Q: Can SCO customers switch to a CHOICE® supplier?
A: Yes. SCO customers can switch to a CHOICE® supplier at any time, without penalty.
Q: How is the SCO price be determined?
A: The SCO price is adjusted each month based on the month-end settlement price for natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), a public market where natural gas and other commodities are sold, plus a Retail Price Adjustment that is set by an annual gas supply auction. The auction results are subject to Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approval.
Q: What is a gas supply auction?
A: A regulated process where natural gas marketers bid to supply gas to the utility's retail customers. At a January 2015 auction, suppliers bid on the right to supply SCO customers with natural gas between April 2015 and March 2016. The Retail Price Adjustment for 2015-2016 is $1.29 per Mcf. Suppliers and the Retail Price Adjustment for the April 2016 through March 2017 period will be determined at an auction scheduled for early 2016.
Q: What happens if the SCO supplier goes out of business? Will I still receive my gas?
A: Yes. Columbia Gas will ensure that supplies are maintained. No customer will lose service due to a supplier default.
Q: Will my bill still come from Columbia Gas?
A: Yes. All customers will continue to receive one monthly bill from Columbia Gas of Ohio. Columbia will continue to deliver natural gas to all 1.4 million of its customers, respond to emergencies, read meters, answer calls, and issue bills regardless of whether you're a CHOICE® or SCO customer.
Q: What tax rate is charged to SCO customers?
A: Yes. Since SCO customers are purchasing natural gas from a retail supplier rather than their utility company, state tax law requires that they pay the sales tax on their natural gas purchase. Like CHOICE® customers, SCO customers pay sales tax at the prevailing rate in their county. This revenue goes to state and local governments, and does not benefit Columbia or your retail gas supplier.
Q: What if I am exempt from paying sales tax?
A: You need to submit proper documentation to your SCO supplier to avoid paying sales tax on your natural gas purchases. You may visit www.tax.ohio.gov/forms to obtain the Certificate of Exemption form you will need. List your SCO supplier, not Columbia Gas, where it asks for a Vendor Name. You don't need to submit documentation to Columbia Gas. Contact information for your SCO supplier is on page 2 of your Columbia Gas bill. If your SCO supplier changes, you will need to submit documentation to your new SCO supplier to avoid being charged sales tax.
Q: What is Default Sales Service (DSS)?
A: A gas supply rate for Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) customers, customers in transition from CHOICE® to the SCO, customers who have moved, new customers and customers who otherwise aren't eligible for the CHOICE® program. The DSS rate is the same as the SCO rate, but DSS customers won't see a supplier's name on their bill.
Q: What if I move – will I have the same SCO supplier at my new home?
A: Your SCO supplier will not automatically transfer to your new address. You'll be served under Default Sales Service (DSS) for up to two months until a new SCO supplier is chosen to serve you. Under the DSS, you'll pay the SCO rate but won't see the name of a supplier on your bill.
Q: If I leave the CHOICE® program, do I become an SCO customer right away?
A: No. During a transition period, you will be served under the Default Sales Service (DSS) rate. You'll pay the SCO rate, but won't see the name of a supplier on your bill right away.
Q: What if my CHOICE® marketer goes out of business or my community's aggregation program ends?
A: You'll be served under Default Sales Service (DSS) until an SCO supplier is chosen to serve you or you choose a new CHOICE® supplier.
Q: Can I switch SCO suppliers?
A: No. However, all SCO suppliers charge the same regulated rate, so there's no price advantage to being served by one SCO supplier over another. If you're dissatisfied with the SCO rate, you may wish to switch to a CHOICE® supplier, which you can do anytime without penalty.