Issue 10 would bring electricity-aggregation option to Grove City

Alan Froman (afroman@thisweeknews.com)

Voters will decide Nov. 3 whether Grove City should opt in to negotiate with utilities to get residents and small businesses a bulk purchase rate for electricity.

"It's kind of a Sam's Club for buying electricity," said Cathy Cowan Becker, co-chair of Clean Grove City, the group campaigning for Issue 10.

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"The important thing for people to know is even if this program is adopted, you will still have the ability to opt out. It's not a mandate," said Ted Berry, a Grove City Council member who is serving as the Clean Grove City co-chair.

"How can you be against something that's only an option for you to consider?" he said. 

If Issue 10 is approved, the city would put out a request for proposals for utilities to supply residents and small businesses with electricity generated from a renewable-energy facility built in Ohio, Becker said.

The wind or solar facility would be built with a capacity to generate enough kilowatts to meet Grove City's electricity needs for residents and small businesses, Berry said.

"People ask what happens if the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining on a particular day," he said. "You wouldn't be out of power. The power to the city would still come from the grid. 

"This program would simply add a solar or wind option to the facilities that feed into the grid," Berry said.

Berry sponsored the legislation council approved Aug. 3 to place the electricity-aggregation initiative on the Nov. 3 ballot.

"There are three reasons to do this," Berry said. "It helps the environment; it will create jobs in Ohio; and it will lower the cost of electricity in our community."

More than 90% of the power generated for Grove City comes from gas, coal or nuclear sources produced in other states, including New Jersey and West Virginia, he said.

"A utility building a new facility in Ohio will bring new jobs to Ohio," Berry said.

Getting the electricity from a renewable-energy source would lower carbon emissions in Grove City by about 73,693 metric tons each year, according to an AEP fact sheet, Becker said. 

That would be equivalent to taking 15,921 cars off the road, she said. 

Power generated by a wind or solar facility would be less costly than electricity from coal or other nonrenewable sources once the initial costs to build a renewable facility are recouped, Berry said.

An aggregation works as a pool, Becker said.

"The more customers that are participating, the greater the purchasing power and the lower price you're able to get," she said. 

Worthington voters approved an electricity-aggregation program in 2019, Becker said. The program saved almost $100,000 in its first 10 months.

The cost savings likely would be greater for Grove City because it is a bigger community, she said.

About two-thirds of Grove City residents and businesses would be eligible for the program, Becker said.

Residents covered by the federal Percentage of Income Payment Program, commonly referred to as PIPP, or who have contracts with other utilities would not be eligible, Berry said.

"If you have an agreement with a utility already in place, you'd finish that out. Then you could opt to join the aggregation at that time," he said.

Columbus also has placed an electricity-aggregation measure on the Nov. 3 ballot, Becker said.

Ohio created the Community Choice Aggregation program in 1999, she said. More than 400 communities have established an electricity- or gas-aggregation program.

The state program requires communities to gain voter approval to establish an aggregation program, Berry said.

Although Clean Grove City is advocating for Issue 10, the city is providing information about the aggregation measure but is taking no position, he said.

"There's information available on the city's website (grovecityohio.gov) that just lays out the facts," Berry said.

The city has retained energy consulting firm Aspen Energy to assist with community education, he said.

Aspen Energy will hold webinars at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, and 2 p.m. Oct. 27 to provide more information about electricity aggregation and Issue 10. 

Residents may register for the webinar at bit.ly/gcWebexMtg or view the sessions live online through the city's Facebook page, facebook.com/grovecityohio. Those unable to attend either of the sessions will be able to access the recorded webinars on the city's website.

Clean Grove City has more information and a FAQ page on its website, yesforissue10.com.

Although Election Day is Nov. 3, oversees and military absentee voting began Sept. 18 and early in-person and mail-in absentee voting began Oct. 6, according to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office voting schedule.

afroman@thisweeknews.com

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