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Why is my natural gas bill going up? What to know about fixed charges and riders on your energy bill.

Feeling the pinch of high utility bills? You’re not alone. Many Ohioans are facing higher gas bills and struggling to make ends meet. While not everything causing these higher rates is under our state leaders’ control, our state leaders are taking steps that make the situation worse. 

While inflation, global conflicts, and supply chain issues have all raised natural gas prices, our leaders right here in Ohio are taking actions to raise our gas bills. State leaders are raising our prices through legislation and regulatory approvals that increase fixed charges (what shows up on your bill as a “delivery charge”) and riders

Read on to learn what these charges are, how they affect your gas bill, and what impact these charges have on the environment.

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You can take action to fight higher utility charges. You can let your elected officials and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) know that you do not want these extra charges on your gas bills. Read more below about how to comment on Dominion’s recent ask for a higher fixed charge, Columbia Gas’s request for higher fixed charge, and the legislature’s recent action to increase charges on your bill through a rider. 

What is a “Fixed Charge” and How Does it Affect My Bill?

  • Our utility bill is usually based on how much energy we use, but there is a new trend in charging for energy that has nothing to do with how much you actually use: “fixed charges.” 
  • We are used to paying for our heat based on how much we use: the demand for energy we put on the overall system. Now, utilities, and natural gas utilities in particular, are trying to change that model. 
    • On top of the regular charge based on your energy use, they are also charging you a set amount each month called a “fixed charge” or a “delivery charge.” 
  • A research and consulting firm, Synapse Energy Economics, prepared a report for the Consumers Union that explains how fixed charges hurt lower income consumers more than higher income consumers and actually remove any incentive for high income consumers to reduce electricity use
  • Utilities are able to add these charges to your bill by either getting approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) or getting the Ohio legislature to pass a law. 

What is a “Rider” and How Does it Affect My Bill?

  • A rider is an extra charge on your utility bill on top of your standard rate to fund specific projects.
    • For example, Ohio law lets natural gas companies charge these extra riders for projects focused on infrastructure development (like the pipes, storage, and facilities required to transport natural gas) and economic development.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio explains riders here.

Examples of State Leaders Raising our Rates: 

Dominion wants to raise charges by 30%

  • The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is raising the alarm that Dominion Energy is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for a 30% hike in its charges for natural gas distribution. The increase will cost a typical residential Dominion consumer more than $100 a year.
  • You can file a comment to the PUCO letting them know you oppose high fixed charges while they reconsider this case. You can do this by emailing and include the case number (23-0894) in the subject line. 

The PUCO is rethinking its approval RIGHT NOW of a Columbia Gas request to raise fixed rates to $58 a month

  • In 2023, the PUCO approved a staggering increase in standard fixed variable rates for the Columbia Gas service territory which would have Columbia Gas customers paying as much as $58/month by 2027, before they ever use any gas! Several parties asked the PUCO to reconsider this decision and the OEC alerted our members to this bad decision. 
  • The OEC’s Emerging Leader Council alum and local social worker, Bailey Fullwiler, explains how higher rates will lead to utility shutoffs and create ripple effects for families. 
  • The OEC’s former Energy Justice Fellow, Dion Mensah, filed a public comment in the case explaining how this increased charge hurts consumers and hurts energy efficiency efforts.
  • Over 300 of our members have filed comments asking for reconsideration, and the PUCO agreed. The decision is currently under reconsideration by the PUCO, and the PUCO could reverse its decision. You can file a comment to the PUCO letting them know you oppose high fixed charges while they reconsider this case. You can do this by emailing and include the case numbers (21-637-GA-AIR; 21-638-GA-ALT; 21-639-GA-UNC; 21-640-GA-AAM) in the subject line. 

Ohio lawmakers are letting gas utilities raise rates on a rider for building and maintenance of pipes. 

  • You can let your legislator know you are dissatisfied with the recent enactment of HB 201 (a gift to natural gas companies): Right before the holiday break, the Ohio legislature passed a law increasing the amount of money natural gas companies can charge customers for pipeline projects
  • The OEC Action Fund asked the Governor to veto this legislation, but he signed it into law. It is important to let your legislator know that this sort of last-minute giveaway for natural gas companies is not okay. 

How to lower your natural gas utility bill now: 

Step 1: Get your monthly payment under control (with a payment plan if needed): 

The fastest way to take control of your bill is to work with your utility on a payment plan. You can call your natural gas company and ask what kind of payment plans (and repayment for past due balances) they offer or try to negotiate a repayment plan outside of the set plans. For example, Columbia Gas of Ohio lists all of their available payment plans here

There are also plans made specifically for customers with lower incomes that can reduce your monthly energy bill. One example is the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus. The Ohio Department of Development has a list of all the state-run energy assistance programs here.  

Step 2: Safely reduce your energy usage: 

To help you safely lower your energy usage, you can purchase energy efficiency technologies and weatherize your home. Purchasing an energy efficient appliance like a water heater or weatherizing your home with improvements like extra insulation can help drastically reduce your energy usage, and energy bills. 

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides a number of tax breaks for consumers to purchase energy efficiency appliances, electrify their appliances, or weatherize their home. It also includes grants to state governments to run energy efficiency programs. The Ohio Department of Development will implement the energy efficiency rebates program, but this program has not started yet. If you still cannot afford to make these upgrades, even with tax credits or rebates, the state offers the Home Weatherization Assistance Program for qualifying low-income customers

If you are not ready to make these larger investments, you can still weatherize your home with cheaper do-it-yourself upgrades like covering your windows with plastic or thermal curtains/blinds and sealing seams on doors and windows with items like caulk, spray foam, or adhesive foam strips. 

Take Action – Tell the PUCO to Stop Raising Our Energy Bills: 

File public comments with the PUCO to share your dissatisfaction with higher bills: To file a public comment, all you need to do is e-mail the PUCO at and include the case in the subject line. 

  • The case numbers for Columbia Gas’s ask to raise its monthly fixed charge to $58 a month by 2027 are: 21-637-GA-AIR; 21-638-GA-ALT; 21-639-GA-UNC; 21-640-GA-AAM. 
  • The case number for Dominion Gas’s ask to raise rates by 30% is 23-0894

Attend a PUCO public meeting to let them know you disagree with these rate hikes: 

  • In progress: There are no public hearings scheduled at this time, but there will be a public hearing scheduled soon for the Dominion Gas Case. Please check back here for more information or sign up for email updates to get alerted once this meeting is scheduled. 

Write to your legislator: 

  • Write to your legislator and let them know you disagree with laws like HB 201 that give more money to natural gas companies. You can find your state legislators by entering your zip code here