The Canal Winchester Times

Electric aggregation

Township, council try to iron out problems

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The aggregation aggravation continued last week for residents who complained to both Groveport City Council and Madison Township trustees about glitches with the opt-out program for the new Border Energy contract.

Groveport Councilman Ed Rarey said at council's Oct. 15 meeting he had concerns about Groveport residents who didn't receive opt-out letters in the mail during the initial opt-out period, including himself.

"I was one of the people who did not receive a letter and my desire was to stay with AEP," Rarey said. "I happen to be one of the people who wrote in to the proper channels and stated absolutely no to the issue."

Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst told Rarey that because of a miscommunication, only residents living in the unincorporated areas of Madison Township had been sent opt-out letters, which required a response by Oct. 15.

She said the people in Groveport and Canal Winchester who should have received letters initially would receive letters that include a new response deadline of Nov. 14.

"When we started getting phone calls, we put it together and realized that Groveport and Canal Winchester had been completely missed," Brobst said. "The unincorporated areas that received their mailing won't be mailed out again. If they sent in their opt-out form, it will be honored."

According to Brobst, before a pattern emerged that told township officials which residents did and did not receive mailings, they chose to immediately schedule an opt-out session for Oct. 19, where residents who were uncertain about their status and who wanted to opt out would be able to do so in person.

After discovering the pattern, Brobst said township officials felt it was appropriate to still hold the in-person opt-out session, but anticipated most people who hadn't received the letters would wait for those and complete the standard process.

"The trustees and I are very concerned about how this has transpired," Brobst said. "It's been a learning experience that we don't want to repeat going forward.

"There will be changes to utility laws and options coming next year and that's why our contract is through December 2014," she added. "We want to be able to renegotiate then. For now, we're happy to offer this contract to the residents and if they take the savings, that's fine."

Groveport resident Matt Campbell has been outspoken about the lack of a budget billing option with the Border Energy contract. He attended both the council and trustee meetings to highlight his and other residents' concerns.

At the Oct. 16 Madison Township trustees' meeting, Campbell was specifically concerned that the information being provided still didn't seem consistent, after Border Energy President Andy Mitrey explained that residents living in unincorporated areas of the township are already locked into their choices to either participate or not.

"I'm here again tonight in reference to the aggregation," Campbell said. "We've just received another change to the information that only some residents have a new deadline."

Campbell said he hopes any future aggregation programs will include a budget plan. According to Mitrey, he is unaware of any Ohio energy aggregation program that offers such a plan at this time, but hopes that will change.

Trustee Victor Paini apologized for the issues, and reminded residents that this contract might not be appropriate for everyone.

"I appreciate those issues being called out, and the message for us is that this process isn't one size fits all," Paini said. "There's not a program that will fit everybody, so we tried to come up with the best program that fits the largest number of people. But if this isn't for you, then by all means, opt out."

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