Trustees vote to put aggregation on ballot

Union Township residents who rely on natural gas may soon find themselves in a better bargaining position. Last month, the board of trustees voted to give township voters a chance to decide on the issue of aggregation, which could introduce a little stability into the local natural gas market.

“Last month, we voted to place the issue of natural gas aggregation on the November ballot,” said township administrator Doug Walker. “Tonight we have someone to talk a little more about it and what it means for us.”

Spence Faxon, of Energy Alliances, and Brenda Coffey, of WPS Energy Services, discussed the issues concerning natural gas aggregation with the trustees, and promised to further provide information to township residents through a series of public meetings and a televised lecture on the local cable access station.

“What we’re going to give this evening is a very short overview of natural gas aggregation,” said Faxon. “What it really is is provided by Ohio House Bill 9. Residences and very small businesses are given the opportunity to aggregate together so that they can buy natural gas in bulk like large businesses have been doing for years. We’ve had some of the same customers for 10 years, like hotels, restaurants and apartment buildings. They have the opportunity to participate and enjoy this, and now so do communities.”

Energy Alliances, acting as an agent for WPS, states their goal as an effort to help stabilize prices by introducing new ways – and new sources – to purchase natural gas.

“Our goal in natural gas aggregation is facilitate price stability for the residents who use natural gas, as well as small business,” said Faxon. “This also gives them a choice of who their supplier would be. If Union Township would decide to go forward with this program, every resident would be able to choose if they want to participate.”

Coffey, and aggregation specialist, said that the aggregation program has been ongoing for some time.

“This concept is not new, we’ve been doing it for several years in Ohio,” said Coffey. “Right now, there are over 200 communities that have passed natural gas on their ballot and offering this choice to their residents. It’s important that communities have the opportunity to have this choice. If passed, each consumer will have the chance to determine if this is right for them. There will be two public hearings we must have to educate the public, and we will elaborate more on an upcoming telecast on your local community access channel.”

Walker said that more information will also appear on the township website and in the upcoming township newsletter. Coffey said that the choice is an important one for residents, who can either opt to stick with what they have or to explore new ways of purchasing the energy source.

“WPS is a natural gas supplier in the midwest, and we’ve been providing natural gas to large industrial and commercial customers for the last 20 years,” said Coffey. “Now, we have the opportunity to provide it to individuals. We are giving Union Township the opportunity to offer this choice for their residents, and it would bring price stability. WPS was instrumental in providing rules for natural gas that were adopted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. As a natural gas aggregation supplier, we will walk the community through every aspect and phase of the program.”