In Ohio, local communities are allowed, by law, to join their citizens together to buy natural gas and/or electricity as a group. By doing this, individual residents gain “buying power” by soliciting the lowest price for the group’s natural gas and electric needs. This can only be accomplished, however, with voter approval.
Known as governmental aggregation, the concept will be on the ballot in the city of Sidney on Nov. 3. Natural gas aggregation and electric aggregation, actually separate ballot issues, will also be on the ballot in the villages of Botkins, Russia and Fort Loramie.
Residents living within the city limits of Sidney and the village limits of Botkins, Russia and Fort Loramie will have the opportunity to vote “yes” for lower electricity and natural gas rates. If approved by voters in those respective communities, residents will have their buying power combined and able to negotiate a bulk rate for both natural gas and electricity.
Across Ohio, residents are voting to approve aggregation overwhelmingly and are finding that “bulk purchasing power” is proving to deliver the lowest rates available in the market. Communities much smaller than Sidney have found success in combining their purchasing power to negotiate lower electricity rates.
In the villages of nearby Coldwater and Jeffersonville, residents were able to secure a rate 5.99 cents per kwh, guaranteed for three full years. In comparison, DP&L’s average price is currently around 8.0 cents per kwh.
I recently reviewed individual shopping rates on Ohio’s Public Utility Commission website (www.energychoice.ohio.gov) and found that the lowest rate I could find for a comparable three-year fixed rate if shopping on my own was almost 7 cents per kwh. I believe community choice aggregation is going to deliver substantial savings to our residents — savings that could be as high as 25 percent lower than DP&L’s default electricity rate.
If aggregation is approved, you remain in complete control of your supply rates. If you have not already made a choice in suppliers, you will automatically be included in the lower citywide rate. However, you can choose to leave and shop on your own at any time, without any penalty. If you have already made a choice, at the expiration of any current contracts, you can easily participate in the citywide rate by making a simply phone call to opt-in.
Participation in the aggregation program is free. Nothing changes except the rate you pay for the electricity and natural gas you use. You will continue to call DP&L, Vectren or Dominion for service or billing questions because you will remain a customer with your current local utility company for electric and natural gas delivery. You will also continue to pay your monthly bill to those utility companies.
As mayor, I am pleased to have this opportunity placed before the residents of our city. I see many benefits for our residents.
Many of you, including our senior citizens, are bombarded with phone calls and door-to-door solicitors offering savings on your electric bills. We field many calls at City Hall about the validity of these offers.
With a citywide rate, negotiated and monitored by an experienced and licensed broker on behalf of our residents, our senior citizens and all residents can rest assured that someone is looking out for them to ensure our residents are not being taken advantage of by unscrupulous sales tactics.
Additionally, with savings of $150 to $200 a year for the average household, we can help you keep more money in your pocket. That money can in turn, help our local economy to help support our local businesses.
I should also note that neither the city nor the villages receive any monetary benefit from aggregation. The benefit comes from knowing that consumers save money on utility costs — costs that have increased dramatically in the past several years.
If you would like to learn more about aggregation and the benefits of voting “YES” for lower electric and natural gas rates, you can visit www.AffordableElectricRates.com. You can also telephone 855-682-0222 and ask questions about the impact aggregation can have on your own home or small business. You can also contact your local councilperson.
We also have informational brochures, yard signs and banners available at City Hall for you to help spread the word about community choice aggregation.
This is one of a series of columns by Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst dealing with issues of interest to residents.