Village leaders say a door-to-door solicitor delivering the message that Sunbury Village Council is lying to residents about its energy aggregation savings program is actually the liar.
After a solicitor allegedly representing ICS Group, a company that assists in energy reduction and savings, knocked on Councilman Scott Weatherby's door, he followed up with the village's energy consultant, Scott Belcastro, to assure that residents are receiving the best deal.
"The thing that was disturbing was the way she started off the conversation with me was (by saying), 'Did you realize Sunbury is lying to you?' " Weatherby said. "I took my sunglasses off and said, 'I'm on City Council, so go ahead and tell me how I lied to you and the community.' "
Council members said they aren't sure how many residents spoke with the solicitor, but said they have received various comments about the home visits.
Weatherby said he didn't catch the solicitor's name because he was too stunned that she initially accused council of lying.
Once he identified himself as a member of council, she said the village's energy provider, Border Energy, is lying to customers, Weatherby said.
Belcastro said that isn't the case.
"My industry has become a pretty dirty business," Belcastro said. "More and more companies I see operate with less and less integrity than I have ever seen in my entire life."
Businesses and residents who opt into the villagewide aggregation program receive a 15-percent discount on their energy bills. The solicitor allegedly claimed residents are not actually receiving that savings.
Belcastro spoke to council at its meeting Wednesday, May 21, saying program participants do receive the savings, despite what may be said elsewhere.
Councilman Dave Miller attested to the program and its effectiveness.
"Every time I've checked my bill against standard AEP bill, I have found that it is correct and that I am indeed charged 15 percent less," Miller said.
Belcastro said calls such as the one he received from Weatherby have become a daily occurrence. Many residents of Sunbury and area townships have asked about the program and about other solicitors, he said.
Belcastro said he spoke with the solicitor who met with Weatherby and said her claims "simply aren't true."
"She doesn't understand the program," he said. "She really has no business, in my opinion, to be in your area without the proper licensing."
Sunbury requires door-to-door solicitors to register with the village. Weatherby said he is unsure if the woman who knocked on his door had registered.
Belcastro said he doesn't know if residents had opted out of the aggregation program as a result of the false information.
To stop the door-to-door soliciting, Belcastro said residents or council should report the names of the energy solicitors to Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.