Committee ponders energy vote

Tiffin City Council members met to discuss an electrical aggregation program proposal Thursday evening at a Utilities and Related Services Committee meeting. The program, provided by American Electric Power Energy, promises lower rates.

Committee members considered the cost and whether to put it on the general election ballot in November. As the company is expected to provide the literature and mailings to voters, the only major cost would be adding it to the regular election ballot. However, the city already has issues on the ballot, meaning there would be no additional costs.

Approval by the electorate would give the city of Tiffin the authority to accept the current bid or choose another. It also is to include the fact that aggregation would occur automatically and that citizens would have the chance to opt out of the program. The city of Tiffin also would not be required to choose a company at the time of voting and could enter an agreement after the election.

In order to get it onto the November ballot, it would have to be approved by council before Aug. 7. This would require a special meeting of council during July in addition to the two regular meetings.

The committee was concerned about the rates and whether locking into the three-year contract would benefit citizens. The program could potentially save citizens $100 to $150 a year.

Committee Chairman Jim Roberts said, “If the city were to join and become an aggregate member, citizens would save a little bit more money than what they save individually.”

Much still is unknown, including the other costs to the city.

Roberts said he did not like the idea of buying into the aggregate.

“The citizens have the opportunity to go ahead and enter into this contract themselves (with the other providers),” he said. “I’m a firm believer in smaller government, and I just don’t believe that this is the place for government to be.”

He said he still believed that putting it on the ballot was the best idea and to let the voters decide.

Law Director Brent Howard suggested talking to other villages and townships and seeing if the city could buy into a larger aggregate, as well as talking to the North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments. He also said talking to other communities who have experienced the aggregation program would be beneficial in making this decision.

The city would have to apply to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to get the approval to join the aggregation if it is approved in November.

Councilman Mark Hayes is pursuing information with the North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments. The committee agreed to have Howard prepare legislation to be read before council beginning at the meeting Monday.