Trustees: Aggregation sets stage for lower rates
With the May 7 primary election near, Madison Township officials continue to reach out to residents in hopes of gaining approval for an aggregation program for both natural gas and electricity service.
A similar ballot measure for aggregation was put before Canal Winchester, Groveport and Madison Township voters in November.
It was successful in both cities but ultimately failed because residents in Madison Township's Blacklick Estates and Sun Valley areas did not approve it.
Madison Township once again has hired Scott Belcastro of Trebel LLC, a utilities consultant, to help inform residents about how aggregation works, Trustee Victor Paini said.
He said aggregation could provide residents with more choices and would allow the township the ability to negotiate lower rates.
"We heard some people say the push-back was related to a fear that we were taking away the right to choose, but really, we're giving people the right to negotiate from a bigger pool," Paini said. "So we're reattempting to pass this measure because the vote was so close, and we think saving money is the right thing to do for the residents."
Energy aggregation allows residents to choose either their current gas and electric providers or new providers, with the assumption being that competition between the companies will drive consumer costs down.
Belcastro said voter approval of the ballot measure 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. Residents would have the choice of opting out of the negotiated rates and retaining their current service providers.
Paini suggested the high cost of township water bills could be partially offset for by lower energy rates.
"We recognize that the water bill is expensive and this is one way to try and offset that," he said, adding all three trustees support the aggregation measure.
"I think everybody is excited to save people here money," he said.
Township Administrator Susan Brobst said Trebel LLC has been fielding phone calls about the ballot measure and has set up a website, trebelllc.com.
"Trebel has had about 40 calls from residents and most everyone is positive regarding the issues, once their questions are answered," Brobst said. She also said she's hopeful residents take advantage of town-hall meetings that have been scheduled to discuss the issue.
Those meetings will be open to the public and are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, April 18, at the community center, 4575 Madison Lane, Groveport.