It's hard to believe but we are approaching the end of our two-year contract with AEP Energy for the city's electric aggregation program.

It's hard to believe but we are approaching the end of our two-year contract with AEP Energy for the city's electric aggregation program.

For those residents and businesses that have been participating in the program, the savings have more than justified getting into the electric aggregation market. According to AEP Energy, from the start of the program in the summer of 2012 through the end of 2013, the community saved more than $1.3 million, which equates to approximately $120 per participating household.

So now, as the current program nears its end, we have been looking at our options to determine first, if we should continue to provide an aggregation program, and second, which provider can offer us the best aggregation program with the best contract terms.

Similar to the process two years ago, a request for proposals from electricity providers was issued in April and we will be spending the early part of May reviewing the results of that process.

I would anticipate that a recommendation will be provided to city council later this month and we will be embarking on more extensive outreach to the community once we have final direction on how to proceed.

One thing we have found as we've been preparing for the end of the current contract and planning our next steps is that the electricity market rates are currently in a state of flux. While the reasons behind this are varied and complex, it's safe to say here that if we do participate in another aggregation program with an electric provider, the rate and term length could be drastically different than the current program.

Since our current program has been in effect, we have received numerous calls from residents who had been participating in other programs and were interested in joining the city's program as their contracts neared expiration. The advice shared with these residents is still appropriate if you are contracting with another provider but you might be interested in the city's program if it proceeds.

First, we advise you to check the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) "Apples to Apples" chart for an overview of your options ( In addition to considering the rates and term lengths offered, also look to see if there are early-termination fees associated with each offer.

If you decide to not sign up with a provider as your current contract ends, you will revert back to AEP Ohio, the local utility. Then, if the city does embark on a new aggregation program, you will be automatically eligible to participate and will receive information on your options in advance of the program starting, which we anticipate would be in July or August this year.

In short, there's more to come on our electric aggregation program. As next steps become known, we will have details available on our website at under the "Headlines" section of our homepage. Additionally, by following the city on Facebook or Twitter, you receive a heads-up any time we have updates to share on this and many other city issues and projects.

If you have questions, please call our Community & Economic Development Manager Bob Lamb at 614-583-5046.

Kudos to finance department

We recently were visited by State Auditor Dave Yost at a city council meeting for the presentation of an Auditor of State Award with Distinction to our Finance & Administrative Services Department for the year 2012.

Only a handful of communities are recognized at this level across the state each year, and this is not the first time that Upper Arlington has been recognized.

Kudos to Finance Director Cathe Armstrong and her staff for another year of meticulous recordkeeping and strict adherence to city and state fiscal policies and procedures.

It's comforting to know that the community's public dollars are in excellent hands from one year to the next, especially during this period of belt-tightening.

Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.