Upper Arlington News

City notes

Discussion welcome at summer community coffees

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With my three-year anniversary as the city manager of Upper Arlington coming up in October, I feel more connected to our vibrant community than ever before.

That being said, I want to be as in tune as possible with the diverse needs and concerns of our many community members. In an effort to learn more about your likes, dislikes and ideas for UA, I'd like to extend an invitation to any interested party to join me in discussing current issues over a cup of coffee.

These community coffees are a more laid-back alternative to coming to see council or myself at the Municipal Services Center -- no concern is too small or idea too futile.

Some issues and initiatives worth discussing might include the new 100,000-square-foot medical facility to be built at Kingsdale, the proposed rezoning of the site north of the Municipal Services Center or the recommendations of the Citizen Financial Review Task Force.

Other initiatives might include the city's new electric aggregation program with FirstEnergy Solutions or the community's efforts to become more environmentally friendly through initiatives such as the Energy Savers Program with AEP Ohio.

Perhaps you have an idea or concern relative to your neighborhood that you would like to discuss.

Whatever the concern or idea, I am looking forward to spending time with those of you who might not otherwise make an appearance at the Municipal Services Center. The schedule is as follows:

* 7:30 a.m., Friday, June 13, at Pete's Coffee, 2468 Northwest Blvd.

* 2 p.m., Thursday, June 26, at Colin's Coffee, 3714 Riverside Drive

* 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 13, at South of Lane Cafe, 1987 Guilford Road

* 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Starbucks, 2051 Henderson Road

I hope to see you there.

Electric aggregation

The city's 24-month electric aggregation contract with AEP Retail Energy ends this summer. After seeking proposals, the city has selected FirstEnergy Solutions to provide a new program for eligible households and small businesses for a period of nine months. The price secured for this program is 7.84 cents per kWh, and the contract term begins with bills issued this September.

The electricity generation market is in a state of fluctuation as electricity providers transition to new competitive regulation. As a result, the rates and term lengths currently offered are not as favorable as they were in 2012 when the city first embarked on an electric aggregation program.

In early June, eligible households and small businesses in UA were sent a joint letter from the city and FirstEnergy Solutions outlining the pricing and contract details.

To be automatically included on the eligibility list, one of the following criteria must be met: The household or business is currently participating in the city's 2012-2014 electric aggregation program; and the household or business does not have a contract with an electrical provider and is receiving its supply directly from the AEP Ohio utility.

This is an "opt-out" program; therefore, if eligible residents and businesses do nothing, they will automatically be enrolled. They must take action by Friday, June 27, to be excluded from the program.

The "opt-out" approach, which Upper Arlington voters approved, enables FirstEnergy Solutions to offer a lower group rate based on the community's size and estimated pool of program participants.

There are no early-termination penalties for participants who choose to leave the program within the nine-month contract period.

Once enrolled, participants will continue to receive their local electric bill from AEP Ohio, with FirstEnergy Solutions' charges as a separate line item. Program participants should also contact AEP Ohio for service-related issues, such as outages and billing questions.

When the FirstEnergy Solutions contract draws to a close next spring, the city may choose to seek bids from other electricity providers in order to negotiate a new contract on behalf of eligible households and businesses.

If, at the program's end, it has not produced an appropriate level of savings for participating customers, the city may choose not to embark on another aggregation agreement at all, at which time participants would be notified of their options for continuing in another program with FirstEnergy Solutions, switching to a different provider, or reverting back to AEP Ohio, the local utility.

In light of the less-favorable market conditions for the city's aggregation program, residents are encouraged to check that the city's program makes sense for them. To determine if the it is right for you, check the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's "Apples to Apples" chart for electricity providers, at puco.ohio.gov.

The number to call at FirstEnergy Solutions for customer service is 866-636-3749. To speak with a city representative, call 614-583-5040.

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

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