NEW PARIS — While Preble County has county electric aggregation in place, only Jackson Township and New Paris have electric aggregation. Integrity Energy is trying to get more county villages and townships involved in the county aggregation, in order to bring energy rates down.
John Bell has been a regular at New Paris council meetings, but he attended the one on Monday, July 10, with one topic on his mind: energy aggregation and expanding that to other villages, with the support of New Paris.
Integrity Energy is a power and energy supplier and one of the largest independent brokers in the U.S. They find wholesale pricing from suppliers for their customers. Once they get the pricing, they have a marginal markup and the customer will enter into an agreement with one of the suppliers for up to five years. Bell himself has been a resident of Preble County for the past 17 years and has been traveling to various council meetings to talk to them about a county aggregate.
“When we were here together last, we talked about the aggregation. I needed to find out, because as we talked about before, these natural gas rates are going to ease out as falls comes on and the rates that we will be able to quote you will commiserate with water and daily gas rates at that point,” he said.
“I wanted to find out, I think your current electric aggregation ends in May of next year. I wanted to find out if you guys wanted to go and pursue now while the natural gas rates are still down. That won’t start or change your agreement, it will just take place of the other one once the time ends. Without a penalty, because we’re not going to eliminate what you have now, we’re going to follow that out to completion and then the new one will start.”
“Preble County is one of the counties in the state that has chosen aggregation and has chosen to put an aggregation contract in place for the entire county,” Bell explained. “Presently, I’ve been visiting other councils in the county — Camden, Gratis — and I’m scheduled to meet with Lewisburg. Presently, yourself and Jackson Township are the only two in the county who have chosen to participate in the aggregation program.”
“So far I have had really good acceptance with the other villages,” he said. “Because we’re a county aggregation, if I can get the villages and several of the townships on, I may be able to get the rates to go down even lower, because the number of meters county wide. My question for you guys is, you guys have your own standalone aggregation now, but if I could get better rates in a situation where I had more villages and townships together under the county aggregation that is already in place, how do you guys feel about being a part of that?”
Council member Kathy Smallwood asked, “What’s the downside to that?”
Bell answered, “There really isn’t one, because what it does is it’s the issue of purchasing electric and gas in a greater volume and a greater quantity and getting a better rate over time.”
Mayor Rick VanWinkle clarified, “By us agreeing to this, the residents still have the choice to join or not to join, is that correct?”
“Yes, in the State of Ohio it is either opt-in or opt-out. The type that you guys have is an opt-out and the type that the county has is an opt-out. So, their aggregation is laid out very similar to yours and on file with the State like yours is,” Bell answered.
“So, basically, you just need approval from the governing body here that we’re willing to participate in the county, but if the residents still have a choice when it comes due, in the meantime before now and then, it would be up to you to pass the information out to the residents so they understand what is going on, so they can decide whether to opt in or opt-out at the time,” VanWinkle said.
“Well, what happens is, they’ll all be in, unless they opt-out,” Bell said. “In this last cycle, a significant portion of your meters opted out. You folks and DP&L energy ended up with 235 meters on the program of 750 meters.”
“We’re all about saving money,” VanWinkle said. “The only thing concern always is and always has been, is most people when they get one of those things in the mailings and it goes in the trash can. Then they find out they can opt-out, but it costs them money. So we have to make sure we have information out there so people aren’t surprised.”
“What I will tell you is, I would like to come back to you next month with the rate for you individually and come back and let you know whether or not I have a large number of [villages] put together in agreement with this. We may just have to move forward with the group that I can put together at that point and I can put another group together at a later point. In hopes that at some point in the future we can put them all together,” Bell said.
Council approved a motion to have Bell to pursue the cost of gas and electric aggregation. He will be at the next regular council meeting with an answer. The meeting will be held on Monday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. in the municipal building.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH