Rio Grande holds energy aggregation public hearings

Staff Report

RIO GRANDE — On behalf of the Village of Rio Grande, the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) will be hosting two public hearing times for residents to learn more about the SOPEC Electric Plan of Operation and Governance, which describes the objectives and goals of the SOPEC Electric Aggregation Program for the Village of Rio Grande.

According to the official election results for Gallia County, Rio Grande voters approved the opt-out electric aggregation ballot measure with 45 votes for and 38 against. The Rio Grande Village Council will have the opportunity to join SOPEC and create an opt-out electric aggregation program for eligible residential and small business accounts served by AEP Ohio, the electric distribution utility.

Public hearings will be conducted virtually by telephone on June 2, at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Residents interested to learn more about the proposed program can call in at either time. Residents may join by phone by calling 1-316-778-8177 and utilizing the PIN 261164230#.

“I encourage everyone to educate themselves and ask questions to SOPEC,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter. “This could lead to great savings commercially and personally when it comes to people’s electrical consumption.”

According SOPEC 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 SOPEC, voters in Rio Grande were asked to decide if they would 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) could 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.

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.

Since the electric aggregation issue has passed, Rio Grande residents and businesses 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.

Staff Report