RIO GRANDE — The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) recently announced that there will be electric aggregation measures on the March 17 presidential primary election in three southeast Ohio communities including the villages of Lowell, Rio Grande, and Chesterhill.
“I encourage everyone to educate themselves and ask questions to SEOPEC,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter. “This could lead to great savings commercially and personally when it comes to people’s electrical consumption.”
According SEOPEC Director of Marketing Mathew Roberts, the organization works with AEP as an electricity supplier to purchase electricity at wholesale pricing with collective bargaining techniques.
According to a news release provided by SEOPEC, voters in these communities will decide if they will authorize their local government to aggregate, or bundle, the electric load of all eligible residential and small business electricity accounts to see if a competitive retail electric supplier (CRES) can offer a favorable rate on the supply portion of everyone’s electric bill—and allowing residents to opt-out, or not participate, if an electric aggregation program is created. Leading up to the primary election, SOPEC will be providing educational materials in various ways to assist residents in understanding the measure, its language, and to provide resources about electric aggregation in Ohio.
As described on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio website, local Ohio communities are allowed, by law, to join their citizens together to buy electricity as a group and thereby gain “buying power” to solicit the lowest price for the group’s electricity needs. SOPEC is the leading public electricity aggregation the region, serving 13 communities in southeast Ohio and representing over 68,000 people.
If a community passes electric aggregation on their local ballot,they can join SOPEC. SOPEC can arrange, as part of a Master Supply Agreement, opt-out electric aggregation programs for the communities it serves, which automatically enrolls all eligible residents unless they individually opt-out of the program (decide not to participate) at no cost. Once aggregation is in place in a community, residents on income-based payment plans (Ohio PIPP), those already in a supply contract, or those served electricity by a rural electric cooperative would not be affected by electric aggregation—those customers stay as is. Residents in an aggregation pool can still enroll in budget billing (AEP Ohio’s average monthly billing) and the electric distribution utility (AEP Ohio) continues to handle billing, power outages, and line maintenance. SOPEC works to provide energy planning services to improve public infrastructure, save taxpayer money, and advocate for consumer rights and protection. Member communities that join SOPEC collaborate on regional energy issues at no cost to local governments.
Ballot language to be come before voters asks,” Shall the Village of Rio Grande have the authority to aggregate the retail electric loads located within the incorporated areas of the Village, and for that purpose, enter into service agreements to facilitate for those loads the sale and purchase of electricity, such aggregation to occur automatically except where any person elects to opt out?”
More information can be found at www.sopec-oh.gov.
Dean Wright contributed to this report.