Voters in Wells Township and Richmond are being asked on the Nov. 5 general election ballot to approve the formation of electric aggregation districts that could lead to residents saving about $200 a year on their electric bills.
John Ney, an energy consultant with World Energy, said the electric aggregation program brings citizens and small businesses together to buy electricity as a group and negotiate the terms, conditions and price of the electric supply on the group's behalf.
Ney worked earlier this year to get the electric aggregation district approved in Mingo Junction.
Ohio law allows for communities-such as townships, cities and counties - to form aggregated buying groups to purchase electric generation on behalf of their citizens. By voting in favor of electric aggregation, community members will allow locally elected officials to purchase electric generation at a discounted rate for the community, Ney said.
Most governmental aggregation programs are structured so that all eligible residents and small business customers in the community are automatically enrolled, Ney said. Residents do not need to do anything to join the program. However, anyone who does not want to participate in the program can easily opt out by returning a form mailed to all eligible members.
Ney, who will negotiate the electric rates, said there are more than 200 electric aggregation programs in Ohio.
If 51 percent of the voters approve the formation of electric aggregation districts, two public hearings will be held each in Wells Township and Richmond, Ney said.
Then the districts will need to be certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. That process takes about a month, Ney said.
Once certified, Ney will begin negotiating rates on behalf of the districts.
Current tariff rates in Ohio are around 7.4 cents to 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
Ney was able to negotiate a 5.99 cents per kilowatt hour for Mingo Junction. He believes the rate for Wells Township and Richmond will be about the same.
The average electric user, based on the 5.99 cents a kilowatt hour, will save about $200 a year, Ney said.
He noted energy rates are expected to increase in the next several years, especially with the recovering economy.
Residents will be notified by mail of the negotiated electric rate and have 21 days to opt out of the program, Ney said. Residents who don't respond are automatically enrolled.
Ney said residents already under contract with a third-party electric supplier will not be notified of the negotiated rate until their contract with the third-party supplier expires and are eligible to join the aggregation district.
Ney said he expects the lower rates to be in place about four months after the election if Wells Township and Rayland voters approve the formation of the electric aggregation district.
Ney also is representing Scio and Minerva with electric aggregation issues on the Nov. 5 ballot. He said if all communities approve the measure, he will pool the communities to negotiate a better electric rate.