Aggregation programs eyed

By Greg Smart -

HUBER HEIGHTS —Monday night, the Huber Heights City Council heard the second reading of two ordinances Council is considering placing on the March 1 ballot for Governmental Electricity and Natural Gas Aggregation Programs.

Council heard the second reading of an ordinance to place a Governmental Electricity Aggregation Program with opt-out provisions on the March 1, 2016 primary election ballot with the Montgomery and Miami County Board of Elections. This program, if approved, will provide lower costs for the residents, business, and other electric consumers in the city.

“This is not an attempt for the city to create a utility, manage a utility or profit from a utility,” City Manager Rob Schommer told the Courier. “The city’s interest solely is to provide an opportunity for residents that haven’t already sought out reduced energy rates to have some ability to cash in on a large scale group rate through the community aggregation. The dollars that can be saved are real.”

Schommer said that comparing the efforts that the city of Troy underwent, their 12 to 15 month return showed “real dollars averaging several hundred dollars per customer over that time period in savings due to the reduced rates.”

Schommer said the city of Huber Heights needs to continue its due diligence in determining what a proposal and what the market would be for a community the size of Huber and usage would be.

“We’re certain that it could provide reduced rates for those that either aren’t aware that they can get reduced rates or can’t negotiate a rate as well as negotiating it with the number of customers that we can through aggregation,” said Schommer.

If voters approved the ballot issue, the city would work with a firm that specializes in identifying and monitoring the market to help the city retrieve proposals from various suppliers, according to Schommer. Once the proposals were reviewed through a competitive and public process with the lowest and best results, Schommer said the city would then enter into an agreement with that supplier on behalf of the aggregation component of the community.

Schommer told the Courier that the city would pay the firm for its aggregation services and that the city would have to determine how this would be paid. He said an option is that the city could pay for it out of the general fund and not carry the cost over to the consumers. He said that on average, the cost is about a $1 a month to the consumer, but noted “the savings far outweigh that.”

Council also heard the second reading of an ordinance to place the Governmental Natural Gas Aggregation Program with opt-out provisions on the March 1, 2016 primary election ballot.

Schommer told the Courier that at this point, the Public Works Committee was told that the natural gas market fluctuates too much and is generally not beneficial to try to aggregate that.

“It’s best for the consumers to do the market rate because it can go up and down,” said Schommer. “Aggregation does not provide a big enough variance in relation to the fluctuation of the cost because we can end up in a situation where we have a contract price and the actual utility prices could fall lower than the contract price and we would never want to be put in a situation where we would be at risk of paying more. So, at this time, it’s suggested that we don’t look at gas.”

Council member Ed Lyons said the hope was to lower costs and get a lower rate for citizens and noted that he would not vote for anything that wouldn’t accomplish that goal.

Council member Lu Dale said Council was looking for what is best for the residents and how they can help the residents and noted it was a project they want to give to the citizens, but noted they would have an opt-out option.

Council member Tyler Starline asked whether City Council should make this type of choice for the citizens or should they let the citizens decide for themselves. He said residents can individually can select a provider now.

Mayor Thomas McMasters said the fact that the city would not profit from this was an important point in defining the scope of the issue.

Council heard the second reading of a resolution accepting the following streets and public improvements for the Carriage Trails Subdivision allowing the city to regulate traffic and enforce maintenance on these streets: Blackford Way, Bluestream Drive, Bushclover Drive, Senna Street, Dayflower Drive (from Senna Street to Coneflower Drive), Bluestream Drive, Bushclover Drive and Coneflower Drive.

By Greg Smart

Reach Greg Smart at 937-684-8088 or on Twitter

Reach Greg Smart at 937-684-8088 or on Twitter