Electric Aggregation Contracts Finalized

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SOPEC PRESS RELEASE – Members of the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council could see a change in the cost of their energy thanks to an electric aggregation partnership.

Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) is an organization that brings together Athens County, Athens City and Athens County villages, starting with Amesville, under an electric aggregation partnership with providers including AEP.

In November 2013, voters in the region approved SOPEC’s pursuit to “secure reasonably priced energy supply through the bargaining power of pooled customer aggregation purchase,” according to a news release sent by SOPEC.Contracts with AEP Energy and Empower Gas & Electric, LLC (Empower G&E) were signed into agreement with SOPEC, underscoring an important milestone for how the region consumes and pays for its energy use.

The negotiated rate for electrical power provided by AEP Energy is 7.549 cents per kilowatt hour (kWH). That represents a reduced cost of 28 percent as compared to the applicable residential electric utility price to compare for the month of December 2014. Twenty-five percent of that energy will be from renewable sources.

Those renewable sources will include solar power, members of the council said Wednesday. The group also discussed ways to produce solar energy locally to help prices and accessibility in the region.

“We’ll be making power here in Athens County and for Athens County,” said Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun Solar.

But the first steps in the process will give the county a unique advantage in energy buying, according to officials.

“Bringing our community together as one, large buyer of electricity was a significant win for our region,” said Chris Chmiel, Athens County commissioner and chairman of SOPEC. “Because of the steps our community has taken, every household and small business is now eligible to take advantage of a negotiated price for their electricity.”

In addition to receiving a negotiated price for electrical energy supply, SOPEC also instituted measures in its aggregation plan to provide the region with both energy efficiency and locally sourced renewable generation. Empower G&E was selected as the partner to provide these services.

“We are the first region in Ohio to pursue an aggregation program that includes energy efficiency and renewable generation efforts as part of the overall aggregation plan,” Roger Wilkens, SOPEC administrator. “In the coming months, you’ll be seeing our Empower G&E partners out in the community offering an affordable energy efficiency package to help reduce a household’s energy use. It’s very unique.”

Empower G&E will be offering a comprehensive energy efficiency product for homeowners that will include home insulation, energy efficient LED light bulbs, wall caulking and a smart thermostat. Homeowners will have the option to pay for the installation of the energy efficiency product upfront, or utilize low interest financing offered through the Empower G&E program. Installation of the products will be sourced through local contractors.

“We recognize Athens’ desire to be perceived as an innovator relative to how the public uses and pays for its energy,” David Milenthal, CEO of Empower G&E explained. “In turn, we have developed an energy efficiency product that not only is affordable to the everyday homeowner, but will also save the homeowner even more money on their energy use starting day one after installation. And we’re proud to offer this product through contractors and installers located right here in Athens County.”

SOPEC’s overall aggregation program includes the negotiated rate for energy supply, the energy efficiency program offered through Empower G&E and the eventual development of locally-sourced solar energy and household rooftop solar arrays, also being offered through Empower G&E. The renewable energy offerings will be in place later in 2015.

A letter from SOPEC outlining the overall aggregation program with the opportunity for households to opt-out of the aggregation rate is forthcoming. The energy efficiency and renewable energy products will be available to homeowners regardless of whether they opt out of the aggregation rate.