On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Genoa Township voters will decide whether to authorize township trustees to negotiate opt-out electricity and natural gas governmental aggregation programs for qualified township residents and small businesses.
Electricity and natural gas are each separate ballot issues.
Last Wednesday evening, Genoa Township and energy broker Scott Belcastro, Trebel LLC, hosted an energy aggregation public information meeting at the township hall.
Opening the session, Trustee Leo Wilhelm explained that governmental aggregation programs are free of cost to the township and individual energy customers; residents do not have to participate in aggregation contracts approved by trustees; and anyone can opt out of a program if they do not want to participate or are dissatisfied with the program.
“A ‘yes’ vote merely gives the trustees the authorization to negotiate with an energy broker,” Wilhelm said. “From there, we discuss an energy aggregation program with our energy broker. He can go to a number of suppliers and come up with the lowest rates we can get for our residents and small business owners.”
Belcastro said Trebel, a Genoa Township business, was started in 2010 to meet Ohio’s deregulating energy market, with generation, transmission and distribution no longer sourced through a single company.
“Ohio lawmakers said competition makes the market work better,” Belcastro said. “Now you have energy generation from a new supplier, energy transmission though a transmission company, and distribution from your local company, for electricity that would be AEP Ohio.”
Belcastro said if Genoa trustees approve an opt-out electricity contract with an energy broker, customers in the program would still receive a utility bill from AEP Ohio, and if they have a power outage, they would still call AEP for service.
“Nothing really changes,” Belcastro said. “Governmental aggregation is just a financial transaction.”
With more than 8,000 households in Genoa Township, Belcastro said residents and small business owners could save an aggregate of $300,000 if governmental aggregation lowered electricity rates by 10 percent; and Belcastro could combine Genoa Township with other townships serviced by Trebel when he is shopping for energy suppliers, for even lower rates.
“It’s not really a big windfall,” Belcastro said. “Nobody’s going to get rich with what they save off of their electric bill. We’re not changing the world here — $15, $20, $25 a month — but it’s going to give you a choice.”
Belcastro said that, in an opt-out governmental energy aggregation program, all eligible residents and small businesses are included in the plan, unless they notify the supplier they do not wish to be in the program. If trustees approve an energy aggregation contract with a supplier recommended by Trebel, a letter would be sent to residents and small business owners allowing them 21 days to opt out.
“We’ve removed all the risk from you as individuals,” Belcastro said. “There are no early termination fees; you can leave the program anytime you wish, free of charge.”
Asked when a formal governmental energy aggregation program might be in place if voters approve the two ballot issues, Belcastro said it would not be an overnight process.
“The program’s covenants and governance documents need to be crafted and approved by the trustees, then Trebel would go out for bids,” Belcastro said. “I would estimate March or April for a program start date.”
Following the meeting, Belcastro said residents who would not be eligible for governmental aggregation would be individuals on the PIPP PLUS energy assistance program; or residents and small business owners already under contract with another supplier.
Belcastro also said budget billing is available in all contracts negotiated by Trebel.
Belcastro said Trebel has 25 energy aggregation programs up and running in Ohio, with another 10 programs in the works.
“Even though we’re an energy consulting firm located in Genoa Township, we’re going to give Genoa the same attention we give other entities we work with,” Belcastro said. “And if there ever are any questions, feel free to call us.”
For additional information about Trebel, go to trebelllc.com or call 1-877-861-2772.
For additional information about energy prices and supplier rates, use the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio “Apples to Apples” chart found at energychoice.ohio.gov. Residential customers can use the “Price to Compare” shown on their electric utility bill, and compare it with prices offered by suppliers as shown on the “Apples to Apples” chart.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093