PUCO To Hold Electric Aggregation Information Session

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With opt-out letters now in the mail regarding the voter-approved electric aggregation program in Athens County, several residents are likely to have questions about the program. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will host an energy presentation in Athens on Jan. 6 to inform residents of their energy options.

In November 2013, voters in the region approved Southeast Ohio Pubic Energy Council’s pursuit to secure reasonably priced energy supply through the bargaining power of pooled customer aggregation purchase.

Contracts with AEP Energy and Empower Gas & Electric, LLC (Empower G&E) were recently signed into agreement with SOPEC, underscoring a 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.

To answer questions residents may have regarding aggregation or energy prices, Erin MacLellan, a PUCO representative, will give a presentation on Jan. 6 at 2:30 p.m. at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital, Room 8.

She will explain energy choice, which gives consumers the option to choose an electric or natural gas supplier from competitive suppliers certified by the PUCO.

MacLellan also will discuss government aggregation, which allows local governments to negotiate energy prices on behalf of their residents and businesses.

The city of Athens, Athens County and the village of Amesville have formed an aggregation to purchase electricity supply for their communities. MacLellan will explain what that means for residents and small businesses and how to evaluate energy offers.

Because an opt-out aggregation was approved in Athens County, customers will have the option to choose to not participate. Letters regarding the opt-out process will be mailed next week.

Customers will have at least 21 days to opt out, according to MacLellan. Since the aggregation was approved by many Athens County voters more than a year ago, McLellan said residents often forget about aggregation.

“We want to give them the tools they need to make an informed decision,” she said.

According to MacLellan, communities in northern Ohio have used an aggregate for a long time. She said aggregation is now becoming more popular in central and southern Ohio.

She also will cover consumer protection tips and consumer rights. Attendees are welcome to bring copies of their electric or natural gas bills for answers to specific questions.

The Athens County Department of Job and Family Services reminds customers who are enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are not currently eligible to participate in the county aggregation program.

However, there is a possibility that a recently-enrolled PIPP customer’s name was not removed from the aggregation-eligible customer list. Customers who find themselves in this situation should return the “opt-out” notice if they wish to remain in the PIPP program.

PIPP is an extended payment arrangement based on a percentage of the household income for those customers who are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines.

For information, visit the PUCO’s website: