Amy Hoffman from Palmer Energy explained the process of Big Spring and Clinton townships' opt-out electric aggregation program at a public hearing Wednesday.
According to Ohio law, communities may buy electricity as an aggregate to better negotiate terms of the electric supply on the group's behalf.
Hoffman said Palmer Energy Co. is the energy consultant for the County Commissioners Association of Ohio Service Corp. CCAOSC works with county commissioners and townships to put the governmental aggregation program on local ballots, and is assisting Big Spring and Clinton townships in implementation of the program.
The program is an opt-out aggregation program, meaning all eligible residents and small business customers are automatically enrolled. Those who do not want to participate must opt out of the program.
An opt-out program can only be implemented through a ballot vote. Voters in Big Spring and Clinton townships approved the program in November.
After the opt-out program is voted on, a governance plan must be completed and presented to the Seneca County Board of Commissioners, Hoffman said.
The approved Electric Power Aggregation Plan of Operation and Governance describes the policies and procedures by which the townships will carry out the electric aggregation program, including policies and procedures which relate to rates and customer service.
After the plan is approved by the board of commissioners, Palmer Energy will issue a request for proposal to determine interest from certified retail electric suppliers in submitting a cost savings proposal for residential and/or small commercial consumers under an opt-out governmental aggregation program.
Electric suppliers then will give their pricing and proposed contract length to Palmer Energy. Hoffman said the price would have to be negotiated and presented to commissioners.
She also said two-year contracts are typical, and then the process is repeated to find the lowest rate for consumers.
Commissioners must select a certified supplier and a letter will be sent to consumers specifying the terms and conditions of the offer, including the rate. The letter will include the opt-out form, which must be filled out and sent back if residents wish not to participate in the program.
Residents have 21 days to opt out of the program, then have the opportunity to opt-out every time the contract expires.
A small cancellation fee may be assessed to residents who decide to leave the program for reasons other than moving.
Only residents currently getting electricity from AEP Energy will be affected by the program and the process will take four to five months.
Hoffman suggested that individuals in other energy contracts wishing to switch to the opt-out program should call their current supplier to find out when their contract ends. Residents must then make the decision whether to wait until their contract ends or pay the cancellation fee of their current contract.
Those joining the program will receive the same rate as other residents within the program, but will have the same end date as all others in the program.
Residents can remain with the current electric utility or find an alternate supplier if they decide to opt out.
A list of competitive electric suppliers certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and their current prices is available by calling (800) 686-7826. More information regarding the program can be found on the Clinton Township website at www.clintontwpsenecacounty.com.