Council considers rules for energy program


SIDNEY — The city of Sidney and its consultant are developing rules that will guide an energy aggregation program — if voters approve the program.

Sidney City Council discussed the proposed rules Monday night. Voters will decide Nov. 3 whether the city should take part in the program. Sidney is one of several local communities that have aggregation issues on the ballot.

With aggregation, a municipality combines the retail electric and/or natural gas load of its residential and small commercial constituents and negotiates a rate with a competitive energy supplier to provide the customers’ energy supply. The residents benefit because the larger, aggregated load permits the municipality to negotiate a rate with the competitive supplier that is lower than the traditional utility’s current service rate for individual customers.

Affordable Gas & Electric (AGE), the consultant assisting the city with establishing electric and natural gas aggregation programs, has provided the city with a preliminary draft of the rules of operation and governance that will guide the program. City Manager Mark Cundiff told council that AGE plans to release these drafts to the public so they can be reviewed in the weeks leading up to the election. “This way our residents will be able to see exactly what they are voting on and how the program will work,” he said. These rules will be available at the public meetings AGE will hold, other public speaking engagements AGE does, and they will be available at City Hall and on the city’s website.

Council needs to review the drafts and provide any requested changes to AGE, Cundiff said. No official action is necessary. If the voters approve establishment of the aggregation programs in November, council will need to officially adopt the rules. AGE will file the rules with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. After the election results are certified, AGE will move forward with the bidding process.

Cundiff and Law Director Jeff Amick said they had not yet thoroughly reviewed the draft rules; the city had received the document a few days earlier. Amick described it as “a very preliminary draft.”

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan was concerned that changes in the rules should be made before voters decide on the program, not after. Mayor Mike Barhorst agreed the city should not make major changes after voters approve it.

Council passed a resolution to enable a renovation project at the Sidney Theater to proceed. The group spearheading this effort, Raise the Roof for the Arts, requested permission to encroach into a portion of the city’s parking lot on the north side of the alley north of the theater and across the alley to install a new transformer and conduit for the theater. This encroachment does not impact any existing parking spaces in the public parking lot, city officials said. Milligan abstained from voting on the resolution because she is a member of the theater group’s board.

Council also passed a resolution authorizing the city to submit a proposal to the Ohio Department of Transportation Office of Aviation for 2016 funding from the Ohio Airport Grant Program. This grant application is in addition to funding requested from the Federal Aviation Administration for capital projects. This grant would provide up to $165,000 for capital improvements at the Sidney City Airport. If awarded, the 2016 Ohio grant funds would reimburse the city 95 percent of project costs. Deb Grogean, transit manager, said the fund would be used on the north/south runway for markings and other improvements.

In other business:

• Councilman Steve Wagner said residents have asked about the status of a stormwater drainage project near the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA. Residents say the area has become “a mosquito haven,” he said. Gary Clough, assistant city manager/public works director, said that project had to be pushed to next year so the city can replace a storm sewer that collapsed recently on Broadway Avenue, near Whittier Elementary School. The city also has to deal with a severe soil erosion problem on Bon Air Drive.

• Fire Chief Brad Jones informed council that the department has received its “quint” vehicle. The vehicle serves a dual role as a fire engine and ladder truck.

• Barhorst recognized high school students who were attending the meeting as a class requirement. He asked them to introduce themselves and tell what they had learned at the meeting.

• Council went into an executive session to discuss the purchase of property for public purposes.

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

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