The Canal Winchester Times

Madison Township

Aggregation resolutions back on May ballot

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Madison Township officials are hoping that greater outreach and education will convince residents to approve two utility aggregation resolutions on the May 7 primary ballot.

One resolution would allow the township to create an electric aggregation program and one would allow creation of a gas aggregation program.

The township is once again working with Scott Belcastro, of Trebel LLC, to schedule town hall meetings, send out mailers to residents and provide information online at www.trebelllc.com.

"(The ballot measure) will once again be for the entire township and therefore will include both cities (Canal Winchester and Groveport) as well," Groveport City Administrator Susan Brobst said.

A similar ballot measure succeeded in Canal Winchester and Groveport precincts last November, but failed overall because residents in Madison Township's Blacklick Estates and Sun Valley areas opposed it.

"Around March 11, we expect that everyone in the township should receive a letter with about 10 to 15 questions that everyone seems to ask, along with my phone number to answer additional questions over the phone," Belcastro said. "We've also created a new website with information about what aggregation is."

An open forum for residents of Blacklick Estates is scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at Dunloe Elementary School, he said.

"I'll do a 10-minute presentation and then open it up to answer resident questions," he said. "We're also scheduled for two town hall style meetings at the community center in April. If anyone has any community associations or groups, like business organizations or whatever, I'd like to come and speak.

"There will be savings for both residential and businesses through this, so we want to get the word out as much as possible," Belcastro said.

Those meetings will also be open to the public and are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the community center, 4575 Madison Lane, Groveport.

Energy aggregation allows residents to choose between their current gas and electric providers or a new provider, with the assumption being that competition between the companies will drive consumer costs down.

Belcastro said voter approval of the ballot resolutions in May would not obligate the township to proceed with aggregation but would give Madison Township trustees the authority to negotiate on behalf of residents. Additionally, voting for an aggregation program does not obligate residents to participate.

If the resolutions are approved in May, residents would still have the choice of opting out of the negotiated rates and retaining their current providers and rates.

According to information provided by Belcastro, residents must approve opt-out aggregation issues by at least 50 percent of the voter turnout in political subdivision precincts. Opt-in aggregation programs do not have to be approved by voters.

"Any political subdivision can now go out and negotiate for all of its residents," he said. "For example, in the village of Sunbury, their aggregation program resulted in Border Energy guaranteeing 15 percent off of AEP's generation and transmission charges. "

Belcastro describes himself as an independent broker and Trebel LLC as an energy brokerage and consulting firm. He does not work for energy companies or buy bulk gas and electric energy and then sell it to the township.

According to information from Belcastro, he functions more like an insurance broker: The township has a need that various companies could fill; he is in the middle, bringing the two together.

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