Electricity aggregation opt-out period over
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
Trebel’s Scott Belcastro, the Village of Sunbury’s energy broker, was in chambers during last Wednesday’s (March 6) Sunbury Village Council meeting, along with Fred Holmes of Volunteer Energy, to present an update on the village’s residential and small business electricity and natural gas aggregation programs.
Holmes began stumping for Village Council to place the two residential and small business aggregation issues – electricity and natural gas — on the ballot well over two years ago; and when the issues reached voters they approved allowing the village to negotiate residential electric and natural gas aggregation by significant margins. The village subsequently approved Belcastro to serve as its energy broker. Belcastro then negotiated an electricity aggregation program with Powell-based Border Energy; Volunteer Energy would be the village natural gas provider if a natural gas aggregation program moves forward.
The Electricity Plan of Governance that Belcastro negotiated between Border Energy and the village guarantees village residents 15 percent off generation and transmission of electricity (AEP remains the local distributor so AEP’s distribution charge will remain unchanged), and 10 percent off generation and transmission for small businesses, both for a 12-month term.
Residents had 21 days after receiving a letter describing the program to opt-out; if they failed to opt-out they are automatically enrolled in the program.
“Tuesday was the last day for opt-out responses, they were due no later than March 5,” Belcastro said during last Wednesday’s council meeting. “We only had 15 phone calls out of over 1,670 households, mostly questions, three of them decided to go their own route.”
Belcastro said of 1,677 potential residential electricity customers in the village there were 118 opt-outs, for a 93 percent participation rate. Of 140 potential small business customers there is an 81 percent participation rate.
“Overall the residential program’s benefit is a cumulative $128,169 back in the hands of members of the community,” Belcastro said. “Everything has gone extremely smoothly. We will submit the final numbers to AEP and on April 1 everything will be up and running.”
Holmes said because of natural gas auction results, Volunteer Energy would be able to continue with last year’s savings, 7 percent off the adder on the Columbia Gas bill.
Belcastro said he, as the village energy broker, would need to file a final natural gas opt-out letter with Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Holmes will get access to the Columbia Gas customer list, and there would be a 10-day waiting period before sending the gas opt-out letters to Sunbury residents.
Belcastro and Holmes both agreed that natural gas savings could begin on June 1.
In other business, council members briefly discussed enacting legislation for No Smoking areas in village parks, especially near playgrounds.
Village Solicitor David Brehm said any No Smoking legislation should be properly vetted; that enacting such legislation should be a slow process to allow for public dialogue.
Sunbury mayor Tommy Hatfield asked if areas of parks could be designated as No Smoking areas without legislation; Brehm said for the rules to have teeth legislation would be required.
Council members approved spending $5,686 to purchase a Cheshire Road Lift Station pump; approved a purchase order to pay Rinehart-Walters-Danner $24,736 for the first half year of the village’s liability insurance premium; $6,091 to the Delaware County Engineer for 113 tons of road salt; and $9,384 to CT Consultants for Sunbury Meadows inspections — a pass-through account.
Sunbury’s website is located at < sunburyvillage.com >.
Sunbury Village Council meets the first and third Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m., third floor council chambers, Sunbury Town Hall. Council committees meet one hour before regularly scheduled council sessions. All village council and council committee meetings are open to the public.