Volunteer Energy addresses electric aggregation program

Amber Gillenwater

April 9, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — The city of Gallipolis recently received a community reinvestment check worth more than $3,000 from Fred Holmes of Volunteer Energy Services Inc. to place toward its electric aggregation program.

Holmes presented the $3,633.52 check to the Gallipolis City Commission during a recent meeting — the first community reinvestment check presented to the city for the electric aggregation program — while inquiring whether the commission had any questions about the program that has been in place since 2012.

City Commission Vice President Jay Cremeens briefly spoke about the number of “telemarketing” calls that city residents are now receiving from various companies wishing to provide electricity.

Holmes said that, although he is unable to do anything about the number of calls people are receiving, he encourages people to contact him directly with questions before choosing another private supplier.

“If anybody has a question, call us because some of these offers that they’re making, they look very appealing, but when you peal the layers of onion skin from it, it’s not a good deal,” Holmes said. “If they are giving you a really low rate for six months and, at the end of that six months, the price goes up, that’s not a good deal. “

Holmes also said residents should read the fine print of any contract they might consider signing because what they may believe they are signing up for might not be what is actually present in the contract.

However, Holmes said the city is receiving “a really great rate” on electricity and believes once people better understand the program, they will be more comfortable with the rate they will receive on their monthly bill.

“We’ve negotiated prices for you, and I feel like the city has a really good deal, but we’re there, we’re available, so use us,” Holmes said. “If any of your citizens don’t understand their bill, or they don’t understand how to read their bill, have them call me. I can either come down or walk them through it over the phone. A lot people, once they understand what they are looking at, will feel a lot more comfortable.”

Holmes further addressed the telemarketing problem, saying that while there is nothing he can do about the calls, he’s confident in the great price the residents of the city are receiving through his company.

“I wish I could just do something about that, but there’s nothing I can do,” he said.

Holmes also talked about the reinvestment program that will now provide checks through not only the natural gas aggregation program, but also the electric aggregation program. One reinvestment check will be provided in the spring and the other in the fall.

Holmes said since his company started the reinvestment program, the city of Gallipolis has received $19,590.48 through the program.

“The city of Gallipolis was the first community that I signed up under government aggregation and I’m very proud of that. I think you should be very proud of that, and your citizens should be also,” he said.

Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney added that while the community reinvestment program provides funds to the city each year, citizens are also saving on their own bills.

“It’s also a significant savings for the residents, so it has been a plus for everybody,” he said.

According to Gallipolis City Auditor Annette Landers, the city first started receiving community reinvestment funds through the natural gas aggregation program in 2009. Typically, the city has not utilized the reinvestment funds, allowing the funding to accumulate.

In 2013, the city commission reportedly decided to spend $6,633.79 on landscaping for the new Gallipolis Justice Center and Gallipolis Municipal Building as part of the Gallipolis in Bloom Committee’s city beautification efforts.

Earlier this year, the city also decided to spend $700 for half of the cost of a small storage building near the Gallipolis Water Treatment Facility, along with $5,600 to purchase two new portable basketball rims for the use during the hoop project and other future sporting events.

According to Landers, the reinvestment funds can be spent for any public purpose that the commission deems desirable. She said, judging from previous years, that the city should receive about $3,000 in reinvestment funds each year for both the gas and electric aggregation programs.