The Canal Winchester Times

Nov. 6 ballot

Township seeks OK for utility aggregation

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Madison Township trustees will hold two public forums in October about the natural gas and electricity aggregation issues on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The forums are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Community Center, 4575 Madison Lane.

In addition, trustees will answer questions about the ballot language during their next meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The two ballot issues, if approved, would allow the township to form a partnership with natural gas and electricity providers for reduced utility rates, Trustee Victor Paini said. If voters approve the issues, the program would be in effect for a two-year period.

"We have language on the ballot that will allow residents to select their electricity and natural gas providers, which is similar to how we manage our waste removal now," he said. "We can negotiate better rates if we have a bigger pool to negotiate with."

According to Paini and Scott Belcastro, a utilities consultant with Trebel LLC, residents could save between 5 and 15 percent through aggregation.

"The trustees have been very clear that this is to help residents," Belcastro said. "AEP announced rate increases recently and we're all going to be affected by that.

"Reynoldsburg has a similar agreement and collectively saved about $724,000 last year," he added.

Paini said current low natural gas prices mean that if the measures are approved, trustees would likely hold off on implementing an aggregation program for gas but would move forward with electric aggregation immediately.

"Based on the market, it may be 2014 or 2015 before we do something with the gas aggregation because the major savings aren't there, but the electric aggregation will start more like January (2013)," Paini said.

If residents pass the ballot issues, the township will hold public meetings to explain the opt-out process for those who choose not to take advantage of the programs, Belcastro said. After locking in the savings rate, the program will take 60 to 90 days to implement, he said.

"Voting to approve these doesn't mean we have to move forward but will give the trustees the option to. The way this is structured, it is a guaranteed savings off your current rates," Belcastro said.

Trustees entered into a 180-day contract with Trebel to act on behalf of the entire township to get the best rate plan, should the ballot issues be approved. Paini said the contract does not cost the township any money since Trebel will derive its profits from any commission it earns by bringing the township to a potential provider.

"We entered into a 180-day contract which will take us through January or February," he said. "It's only binding if we agree to select a provider from (Trebel's list). We don't owe them financially. (Trebel) is paid by the utility for bringing it business.

"If the ballot (measure) fails, we're not out anything financially," he said.

Reporter Michael Hayes contributed to this story.

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