ROBBINSVILLE: Officials hear energy aggregation pitch

Program could result in savings for residents

ROBBINSIVILLE — Officials may explore energy aggregation to pursue savings for residents after hearing a program pitch at the June 27 Township Council meeting.
   John Fish of Commercial Utility Consultants Inc. discussed the program, which through pooling the municipality’s ratepayers, could result in an energy cost savings.
   Mr. Fish said CUC essentially works through the purchasing power generated from having a larger pool of users, noting many municipalities have already participated in various aggregation programs for government buildings.
   To initiate the process, he said, the township would have to create an ordinance authorizing the municipality to establish a program.
   The ordinance, he explained, would only commit the township to exploring the matter further.
   Upon establishing the ordinance, the CUC would go to the local distribution company, such as Jersey Central Power and Light or Public Service Enterprise Group, to gather usage information.
   Then third-party suppliers would bid on supplying power to the township. Officials, he added, would be provided the rate prior to having to make the final decision to move forward.
   He also emphasized that the service itself would still be provided by the same company that currently provides service to the ratepayer such as JCP&L. Ratepayers would be billed by the company, which would remain the entity for customers to contact in the event of a power outage.
   Under the program, a fixed rate would be established for a contract term between 12 and 18 months. The rate would decrease in the event the distribution company’s rate becomes lower than that of the third-party supplier.
   Should the township be amendable to the program upon learning the prospective rating savings, CUC would then embark on community outreach to explain the program to residents who are automatically opted in to the program.
   ”It’s all about education,” Mr. Fish said, noting in addition to lower rates customers would not be subject to fine print or hidden charges.
   Council President Ron Witt said the deal seemed too good to be true, to which Mr. Fish replied the opt-out clause tends to be the one rub. However, he reiterated that residents would be able to opt out at anytime without penalty.
   Responding to concerns from Councilwoman Sheree McGowan regarding the opt-out, Mr. Fish said it was the only way to ensure lower rates.
   ”The Board of Public Utilities and the Rate Counsel spent time, researched it and it was their opinion that this is the only way the program would succeed,” he said.