Grove City expected to send RFPs for electricity aggregation in 2021

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group

Grove City voters' approval of Issue 10 is only the first step in the process to establish an electricity-aggregation program for residents and small businesses.

"The next step is for the city administration to prepare a request for proposals that will be sent to companies," said council member Ted Berry, who served as co-chair of Clean Grove City, the group that campaigned for Issue 10.

Grove City Hall

With all precincts reporting, voters approved the issue 13,370 votes to 7,780 votes, or 63.22% to 36.78%, according to unofficial results Nov. 3 from the Franklin County Board of Elections.

An exact timeframe for when the RFP will be sent hasn't been set, but proposals will be sought sometime next year, Berry said.

"We are committed for this to be a public process all along the way," he said. "I'd expect that once we get a set of proposals for companies, we'd hold a public forum to give residents details about the proposals and get their input."

Once a company's proposal is selected and an agreement between the city and utility is negotiated, the proposed plan will be presented to City Council for final approval, Berry said.

"That again will be a public process through council, with a public hearing for residents to give their input before a final vote," he said.

Utilities will be asked to offer a proposal for building a renewable-energy facility in Ohio that would be able to provide enough kilowatts to meet Grove City's electricity needs for residents and small businesses, Berry said.

Issue 10 is a win-win-win measure, said Clean Grove City co-chair Cathy Cowan Becker.

Because an aggregation creates a large pool of electricity customers, residents and small businesses can expect to see smaller electricity bills, she said.

"The renewable-energy facility will provide jobs in our state because it will be built in Ohio, and we'll also be growing the use of clean energy, which will benefit our environment," Becker said. "It's a triple benefit."

Becker is a member of the Sierra Club and serves as chairwoman of the Columbus chapter's Ready for 100 campaign.

Ready for 100 is a Sierra Club initiative to encourage communities across the nation to pass resolutions committing to switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

"One of the goals for the initiative is for a community to change to 100% renewable energy, and Grove City is moving toward that," Becker said. "Another is to make sure the renewable-energy facilities are local to create jobs locally. The facility that will serve Grove City most likely won't be built within Grove City, but the city will be requiring companies to build it in Ohio, so it will generate jobs in our state."

A third goal of the Ready for 100 campaign is for communities "to pay attention to energy equity," Becker said. 

Many low-income individuals and families are renters and are responsible for paying their electric bill but might have landlords who do not act to make the housing they own energy efficient, she said.

Currently, 168 communities across the nation have made the Ready for 100 commitment, along with 13 counties, eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Becker said.

The total population of those areas is about 100 million, meaning that nearly one in three people who live in the United States and Puerto Rico are residing in a jurisdiction that has committed to 100% renewable energy, she said.

Columbus voters Nov. 3 also approved an electricity-aggregation program.

Grove City's ballot measure was different from Columbus', Berry said.

"They chose to choose a specific agreement with a company and put that on the ballot," he said. "We thought it would be better to get residents' approval of the concept of an aggregation program before soliciting specific proposals."

Grove City residents and businesses won't be required to participate in the program once a final agreement with a utility is approved by council, Berry said.

"You will always have the right to opt out of any agreement," he said.

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