With all 14 precincts reporting, Worthington's Issue 39 was approved 6,148 votes to 2,042 votes, or 75 percent to 25 percent, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Issue 39 will allow city leaders to consider whether to become a governmental aggregator and pool the community’s purchasing power to negotiate a bulk price and potentially lower electricity bills.
Under Ohio law, residents may negotiate prices with energy suppliers individually. But by turning thousands of residents into one large “energy buyer,” the city, in theory, would have added leverage in negotiations to ensure that the price people pay for their energy supply is lower. Worthington has about 14,600 residents, according to a 2017 Census Bureau estimate.
Consultants from Energy Alliances would negotiate a deal with a supplier on the city’s behalf. Per an agreement, the consultant group would be paid only if a deal with a supplier were approved by City Council, in which case a fee would be worked into it, city officials have said.
Because Issue 39 is an opt-out aggregation program – residents automatically would be enrolled and would have to choose not to participate in the program – it required approval by residents in a citywide ballot issue, according to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s website, puco.ohio.gov.
The measure was introduced in March by Worthington City Council members David Robinson and Doug Smith and sent to the ballot in June by City Council.
Robinson said the goal is threefold: to save households money, to have a renewable-energy option available to residents and to have a no-cost opt-out option for every resident.
This method of buying is used by other cities in Ohio, such as Cincinnati and Cleveland. Dublin and Reynoldsburg are the only two cities in Franklin County that are registered with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as government electricity aggregators. Columbus does not currently have a program.