The Canal Winchester Times

Border Energy contract

Budget billing not available with aggregation

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Residents who take advantage of a monthly "budget bill" for their electrical service won't be able to continue that under Madison Township's new aggregated energy contract with Border Energy.

Budget billing is a process of equally dividing estimated energy use and costs into monthly amounts. At the end of the term, one month is used as a "catch-up month," where any difference between estimated and actual costs is made up.

According to Madison Township Trustee Victor Paini, the committee of residents and trustees who reviewed the electric aggregation proposals thought the discounts being offered by Border Energy were too great to pass up.

Border Energy guarantees a 15-percent savings over monthly American Electric Power rates for the 15 months of the contract, ending in December 2014.

"Not many resellers offer budget billing and the only company that can offer budget billing to the residents at this time is AEP," Paini said.

"When the committee met to review and recommend selection of a provider, budget billing was discussed, and even though Border Energy didn't provide budget billing, the residents felt that the discount was too strong to ignore their price."

Paini said Madison Township residents who wish to remain on a budget should opt out of the township program at this time.

That might be the option residents such as Matt Campbell will be forced to choose.

"Budget billing is a critical lifeline to those with a single income, or fixed or low-income households," Campbell said. "The guaranteed 15-percent discount would be on the actual monthly usage rate, which for me would go from say, $100 per month to potentially $300 per month -- which with a 15-percent discount, is $255."

Campbell said even with the promised savings, that is a significant jump, and he doesn't know if he can handle the fluctua- tion -- meaning he'll miss out on the savings.

He's also concerned that residents who are unaware of this change might not opt out in time and be forced to pay the $25 early termination fee to revert back to the AEP budget billing plan.

Paini said he hopes the township will be able to offer a budget billing plan after the next negotiation cycle in 2014.

"Resellers are researching adding this feature in the future and I'm hopeful that when we go back to bid next year, we'll have more options for budget billing," Paini said.

Township officials said the new Border Energy service will begin with the October billing cycle. All residents will be given the opportunity to opt out of the service if they choose to; otherwise their service will automatically switch to Border Energy from AEP.

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