Athens And County Move Forward With Formation Of Council Of Governments

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Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, the organization formed by the city of Athens and Athens County to pursue electric aggregation, isn't changing its name but is altering its structure.

On Tuesday, the Athens County Commissioners approved the creation of a regional council of governments, also called Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council. On Monday, Athens City Council suspended its rules and adopted an ordinance doing the same.

County Commissioner Chris Chmiel said the main reason for creating the council of governments is that it will make it easier for other entities to join Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council. Without the change, SOPEC would have to submit paperwork to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio each time a new member wanted to join, Chmiel said.

According to Chmiel, the PUCO recommended adopting the council of governments structure. It is also the structure of the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, which is the largest governmental aggregator in the U.S. NOPEC is paying for its attorney to advise Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council.

Amesville is also one of the initial partners in forming the council of governments, and Chmiel said he expects the village to act next week on the agreement the city and county approved this week.

Voters in Athens, Amesville and the unincorporated areas of Athens County have all authorized electric aggregation, the process by which customers band together to get lower rates. Trimble, Jacksonville and Buchtel have it on the ballot in the general election.

Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council recently accepted price proposals from electricity suppliers, and has been negotiating with two of them — AEP Energy and Empower Gas & Electric — to try to work out contracts in which the two companies would collaborate in helping the council meet its goals.