Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
By Daily Standard Staff
Coldwater, Fort residents to vote on utility rate plans
By WILLIAM KINCAID
and DOUG DREXLER
and DOUG DREXLER
Residents in Coldwater and Fort Recovery will decide May 6 whether to approve aggregation plans designed to lower utility rates.
The proposed natural gas and electric aggregation plans will require separate votes on the upcoming ballot. A majority vote is required to pass each issue.
If approved, residents would receive the negotiated rates from Affordable Gas and Electric unless they opt out.
AGE seeks to negotiate rates on behalf of eligible residents and small businesses not under contract with a utility supplier. Those already under contract are eligible when their contract expires or face a penalty upon early termination, officials have said.
Large-scale energy consumers and residents on government energy-assistance programs are not eligible for the aggregate program.
If voters approve the aggregation plans, AGE customers would continue receiving bills and service from their current utility companies, according to Timothy Nagy of AGE.
Nagy has said eligible customers could benefit from AGE's negotiating power due to its large customer base. The company is contacting smaller communities throughout Ohio to combine and market as a group for lower rates.
Nagy said rates will be more attractive if more people join.
"If we can get both Coldwater and (Fort Recovery) to join in, then it's just going to get a better rate for everybody," he said. "... You're all independent. It just means that AGE as a company has more purchasing power as a whole to negotiate better for everybody."
Communities with an opt-out aggregation program have lower costs than DP&L's default rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, Nagy has said. Examples given by him include Wilmington's aggregate rate of 5.29 cents per kilowatt hour, Belpre's at 5.9 and Clinton County's at 5.23.
Customers not happy with AGE's rate would be able to opt out of the program, Nagy said during previous presentations. AGE is paid by suppliers and does not charge villages or customers for its negotiating costs, he said.
The official ballot language asks if residents should have the authority to aggregate the retail electric and natural gas loads located within the village and enter into service agreements to automatically allow the sale and purchase of electricity and natural unless utility customers opt out.
Fort Recovery village administrator Randy Diller recently provided council members with an article about utility aggregation in which an attorney speaks of the benefits of the program.
"Basically, the bottom line is ... he feels communities are doing a disservice if they don't do it," Diller said. "There's no reason not to do it. That's good to hear that, although that's what we believed from the beginning."