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Fire insurance rates may be lower

BUCKEYE LAKE – It’s sort of like golf – the lower the score, the better.

Monday night, Buckeye Lake Water Supervisor and Buckeye Lake Fire Department Captain Toby Miller told the Buckeye Lake Village Council members that installation of the public water distribution system with fire hydrants lowered the village’s Insurance Services Office, or ISO, rating from 9 to 6 in most areas of Buckeye Lake Village, which could lower some residents’ fire insurance rates up to 40 percent.

“This should be a real plus for our citizens,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker.

Basically, the ISO rates fire departments on a scale of one to 10 as far as effectiveness, and fire insurance rates are based on that number. One is most effective and 10 is not effective at all. Buckeye Lake was rated nine, but that rating was set before the village had the public water system with fire hydrants.

Miller said that effective March of next year, any structure within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant and within five road miles of a fire station will be rated as a six. Any structure not within 1,000 of a hydrant, but still within five miles of a fire station will remain a nine. He said that most structures that retain the nine rating would be trailers deep within their respective parks.

Miller said the village should have formal notice of the rating change available Dec. 1. “We can use this letter to provide information to village residents to see if their (insurance) agents will accept it,” he said. If not, as of March 1 the new rating will be available on an ISO agent login.

In other village news:

• Council President Charlene Hayden said the Community Christmas Celebration Committee is asking for donations and help acquiring coats, hats, gloves, toys, and food for local families in need. “They are having a ‘Stuff the Boat’ weekend where they are asking for children’s coats and toys for all ages,” she said. Committee members will place an old wooden boat at the Buckeye Lake Museum Nov. 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Committee members ask that donated items be placed in the wooden boat. “If you can’t give in this fashion a monetary donation would be appreciated an all the money they collect will be used to buy coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and toys,” Hayden said.

Anyone wanting to “ adopt a family” for Christmas, said Hayden, should call Buckeye Lake Museum Director J-me Braig for details. She said the Community Christmas Celebration Committee’s Christmas celebration will be Saturday, Dec. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

“The committee always needs help giving out the coats and toys, and help with serving the food and drinks and that day,” said Hayden. She said the Cranberry Bay Homeowners

Association is donating the hot dogs, buns, chips, napkins, etc., and will help serve food. Hayden said anyone wanting to volunteer should contact Braig at (740) 929-1998.

• Development Director Daniel Coffman told council he’s working with Buckeye Energy Brokers, Inc. to protect the village from possible AEP rate hikes though a governmental aggregation program. Simply put, Coffman said Buckeye Energy Brokers could guarantee customers’ electric bill would be eight percent below whatever AEP’s rates are for the next two and a half years.

Customers would have the option to join, or “opt in,” to the program until Dec. 15. Coffman said the village would receive $10 for each customer who opts into the program.

“The idea that I am endorsing as a ‘good idea’ for the residents of the Village is an ‘Opt-In’ program that offers a set discount of eight percent to the residents of the village over 2.5 years, that is, if the agreements are passed by council and signed,” said Coffman. He said this is a bit different than an “aggregation program,” which require a ballot issue to be passed and an “aggregation program” is an “Opt-Out” program, not an “opt-in” program.

Coffman predicted Buckeye Lake residents will receive, or have received, cards in the mail from possible electric power providers that have a statement at the top saying that the program will give up to a five or eight percent discount. “When you read the fine print you will note that the discount really is a fixed rate, which may be a bit lower than the residents are already paying at the moment,” he said. That fixed rate will most likely be 6.55 until March of 2012 then a jump to 6.99 in Oct of 2012, then no rate guarantee after that. Coffman said in most cases the residents will continue to receive their bill from AEP with the only change to the bill being the “generation provider.” “If the Village of Buckeye Lake administration enters into an agreement with a generation provider the bills will look the same as always with the only change being the generation provider,” he said.

“The Opt-In program that I would like the village to partner with is to offer a monthly, straight discount on the PUCO going rate for 2.5 years,” said Coffman. So, he said, whatever the going rate that the PUCO endorses per month for the next 2.5 years will have a guaranteed eight percent discount applied to that rate from the generation provider (for those who opt in to the program that is worked out with the village administration). “At the moment the village has an offer to provide an eight percent discount over 2.5 years,” said Coffman.

The deal would be “brokered” by a third party. Coffman said that third party would be paid by the retailer with whom the village partners. The village would need to sign an agreement with the energy broker and then with the winner of the RFP for providing opt-in electrical services for the village (total of two agreements).

“I believe that if the village administration can work with the private sector to come up with a plan that will assist the village residents with their day to day bills, such as electric bill, then it should,” said Coffman. “If the proposed electrical rate increases were not as impactful on most people’s budgets then I would most likely not be overly concerned about the issue.”

In this case, however, Coffman said the rate increase could be significant and the village administration, as per the ORC, has the right to ask the residents for permission to “aggregate,” or leverage all the electrical consumption in the village to get a better price for everyone (which would be an Opt-Out program), or, the village administration has the right to partner with a electrical retail generation provider to create an Opt-In program.

“If the Opt-In program is presented to the residents correctly then it should provide a savings as the power prices increases over the next 2.5 years, or at the very least, slow down the rate of price increase for the residents,” said Coffman.

Council member Kaye Hartman said she’s familiar with the program and has heard positive comments about it. “People don’t understand it; it’s quite involved,” she said. “It’s one opportunity to give everyone an option.”

However, council member Clay Carroll said he was familiar with a similar program and the comments he heard were mostly negative.

Monday night’s agenda included two ordinances that would authorize the village to enter into an agreement with Buckeye Energy Brokers.

Council member Jeryne Peterson said this was all too sudden for her to feel comfortable voting for the ordinances. “There’s always fine print,” she said. “I’d like to see the contracts first.”

The ordinances were rejected bya 3to4vote,withHayden,Hartman,and council member Hilde Hildebrandt voting “yes” and Peterson, Carroll, and council members Donna Thompson and Arletta Ruton voting “no.”.

• Ruton said the Buckeye Lake Firefighter’s Association is sponsoring a toy drive from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Buckeye Lake Fire Department. New toys and monetary donations are being sought to help Buckeye Lake Village families in need. “Over the past three years the association and its members have been able to help 25 families,” she said. “We also have a bucket campaign going on right now at the local business to help raise money for the toy drive. Help us to help the children here in Buckeye Lake to have a bright Christmas,” Ruton added.

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