Updated Thu, Aug 28, 2014 3:12 pm
The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, the organization pursuing electric aggregation for the city of Athens and Athens County, is currently reviewing proposals from electricity suppliers.
Five companies responded to a request for proposals sent out by the energy council.
Electric aggregation is a process by which residential and small business customers pool together to seek better rates. Voters in Athens and the unincorporated areas of Athens County approved aggregation last November. Amesville approved aggregation in the May primary, but is not yet an official member of the energy council.
“It’s looking like we got some good proposals,” said County Commissioner Chris Chmiel. “Now we’re basically reviewing those.”
In addition to seeking lower rates, the council is interested in using aggregation to promote economic development, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Roger Wilkens, a consultant working with the energy council, said Wednesday that he’s optimistic the council will be able to get a good price and address some of the other goals.
“There are exciting things in these proposals,” Chmiel said, although he declined to elaborate at this stage in the process.
Wilkens said that he and representatives from the city and county will be meeting Thursday and/or Friday with two or three of the companies to clarify points in their proposals, after which negotiations will take place.
Wilkens said the goal is to arrive at a contract by the end of next week.
Although not yet an official member of the energy council, Amesville will have input into the process, Wilkens said.
Voters in Athens, Athens County and Amesville approved opt-out aggregation, meaning that customers (who will be automatically enrolled) will be able to drop out of the program. Although an official three-week opt-out period will be announced, Wilkens said the energy council has decided that customers will be able to leave the program at any time without penalty.
Aggregation is on the ballot this fall in Jacksonville, Trimble and Buchtel.
Wilkens and Chmiel said efforts are proceeding toward establishing a Council of Governments, which will provide a framework for adding new communities to the aggregation pool. Without a COG, adding a community would necessitate submitting a revised organizational plan to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio each time a community is added, which Wilkens said would be a cumbersome process.