West Side News

Prairie Township eyes electricity aggregation

The Prairie Township Board of Trustees held preliminary discussions last week about an electricity aggregation program for township residents

If the final decision is to move ahead, the program – by which the township would negotiate rates with electric companies on residents’ behalf – could save those residents money on their electric bills, according to township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker.

Trustee Steve Kennedy said the township must adopt an ordinance or resolution that approves a specific aggregation method, either opt-in or opt-out.

The opt-out method automatically includes each resident in the aggregated pool unless an individual decides not to participate, Hatmaker said.

If the opt-out method is chosen, the issue must be voted on in May, he said.

“This is a way for us to negotiate rates and allows individuals to opt out if they so choose,” Hatmaker said. “This is just the first step in the process.

“You will either have the chance to vote against it or opt out,” he said.

“These things don’t make the rates go up.”

Hatmaker said in his study of other townships, the average savings for the customer is about 1 to 2 percent.

He said at least two public meetings will be scheduled prior to the May election, at which residents can learn how electricity aggregation would work.

Scott Belcastro, a consultant who deals with these types of issues, attended the Nov. 14 trustees meeting and offered his services to the board. He said he worked with Madison Township in an unsuccessful attempt Nov. 6 to get voter approval of its aggregation program.

Kennedy said he was curious why Madison Township residents did not approve the program if, in the long run, it would save them money.

“I believe the biggest thing was education,” Belcastro said. “Residents need to know what aggregation is and how it works.”

Kennedy wanted to know how much money Madison Township residents could have saved had they voted for the aggregation.

“Typically, the savings can be between $200 and $300 off your bill annually,” Becastro said.

“The percentage is roughly 10 to 15 percent. The program is completely voluntary. There is no downside to this.”

A resolution dealing with electricity aggregation will be on the Prairie Township trustees’ agenda soon, Kennedy said.

The next scheduled trustees meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 at Township Hall, 23 Maple Drive.