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Licking Township considering electric aggregation

JACKSONTOWN – Monday night, Licking Township Trustee President Joe Hart said Joe Garrett, aggregation specialist with Trebel LLC, would visit trustees during their Jan. 19 meeting and ask trustees to consider placing an energy aggregation proposal on the ballot to find the best rate for power.

Hart said the Union Township Trustees recently approved entering into a contract with electrical supplier IGS through Trebel LLC.

According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, aggregation is when a group of customers join together to form a single, larger customer that buys energy for its members. A large buying group may be able to get a better price for the group members than residents could get on their own.

Ohio’s laws allow for communities – such as townships, cities and counties – to form the aggregated buying groups on behalf of their citizens. The governmental aggregator chooses an outside supplier for all of the customermembers in its group. Aggregations can be formed to buy natural gas, electricity or both.

All governmental aggregators buying electricity must be certified by the PUCO. Communities that aggregate to buy natural gas are required to be certified by the PUCO unless they aggregate under an Ohio Constitution provision which allows “home rule” or the right for communities to take action under their own charters. If an aggregator is going to provide natural gas and/or electric buying services, it must be certified separately for each industry. PUCO certification means they have met strict requirements for doing business in Ohio. Therefore, residents can participate with confidence.

Last May, voters in the unincorporated portions of Union Township approved an electric aggregation program by a 405- 229 unofficial vote. That approval meant that Union Township’s utility consultant – Trebel LLC – would seek bids from approved electricity suppliers to get the best price for AEP customers in the unincorporated portions of the township.

Hart said he expects Garrett will present a no-cost to the township proposal to place the aggregation issue on the ballot and actively seek its adoption. The filing deadline for issues on the May 5 ballot is Wednesday, Feb. 4.

If voters approve aggregation, Trebel would seek bids from electric suppliers. Garrett has said previously that their contracts are designed to protect users, rather than suppliers. Their contract also eliminates any fees for an individual customer to “opt-out” of the aggregation contract. Garrett has said previously he supports “freedom of choice” and if residents don’t want to switch from AEP to another supplier for a discount that’s their right. Residents could “opt-out” at any time without a penalty.

According to the PUCO, “optout” aggregation is a program that automatically enrolls all local residents, unless they individually opt-out of the program (choose not to be included). If a community chooses this form of aggregation, a number of steps are required:

• A majority of voters must authorize opt-out aggregation in an election. The issue appears on a primary or general election ballot for voters’ consideration.

• If authorized by a majority of the vote, the local government must form a plan of operation and management. They must also hold at least two public hearings to allow customers to voice any concerns over the proposed plan.

• Once the local government has adopted the plan, each customer to be aggregated must be notified that they will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they specifically elect not to participate. This notification must also state the rates, charges, and other terms and conditions of enrollment in the program. The opt-out notice is usually a letter accompanied by a post card to be mailed back if you do not want to participate or sometimes, a phone number to call or web site to visit to opt-out. Electric ag gregation customers may opt-out every three years without paying a switching fee.

In other township news:

• Trustees unanimously elected Hart to continue as trustee president for 2015. Trustee John Holman complimented Hart on his organizational and managerial skills. Hart was the only nominee for president.

Trustees unanimously elected Holman as trustee vice president for 2015. Holman was the only nominee for vice president.

• Licking Township Fire Company Chief Mike Wilson said the department had a total of 1,059 runs in 2014. “Those are the most runs in history,” he said. The second-most runs were 1037 in 2009-2010.

• Robert Johnson was reappointed to the Licking Township Board of Zoning Appeals for 2015 through 2019.

• Clifton Clark was reappointed to the Licking Township Zoning Commission for 2015 through 2019.

• Corey Enders was appointed as a regular member of the Licking Township Zoning Commission for the balance of a five year term running through 2018.

• Township road worker Rob Mills said snowfall for 2013- 2014 totaled 43 inches. The township used 560 tons of salt and 100 tons of shot sand to treat roadways for snow and ice. He said heavy rainfall in 2014 resulted in mowing and ditch work delays, however, he thanked trustees for hiring Jeff Houston, who helped the road crew get back on schedule.

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