By Megan Alley
On Nov. 7, Election Day, voters in the villages of Moscow and Batavia and Monroe Township decided to join together with other residents in their respective communities to potentially save money on energy costs, while voters in the village of New Richmond and Tate and Wayne Townships voted against the opportunity.
Government leaders from each of the jurisdictions recently agreed to put the issue to a public vote, letting residents decide whether or not they should establish a governmental energy aggregation program — to receive better rates on energy — in their communities.
Notably, each jurisdiction included an opt-out provision, which means residents could choose to not participate in the program and find their own rates.
In Moscow and New Richmond, voters decided if they wanted to join together to purchase electricity as a group, in an effort to save money.
The Moscow Electricity Aggregation issue passed with 62.96 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
The New Richmond Electricity Aggregation issue failed with 52.05 percent of the vote against, according to unofficial results.
In Batavia, Monroe, Tate and Wayne Townships, voters were asked to weigh in on two ballot issues; they decided if they wanted to join together to purchase electricity as a group, and natural gas as a group.
The Batavia Electricity and Gas Aggregation issues passed with 58.98 and 58.73 percent of the vote, respectively, according to unofficial results.
The Monroe Electricity and Gas Aggregation issues passed with 56.88 and 54.92 percent of the vote, respectively, according to unofficial results.
The Tate Township Electricity and Gas Aggregation issues failed with 53.57 and 54 percent of the vote against, respectively, according to unofficial results.
Some of the jurisdictions worked with Energy Alliances, Inc., an energy broker and governmental aggregation consulting firm based in Cincinnati, on the effort.
“Obviously we would like to see the communities that we’ve talked to pass, and then even some of the ones that failed, if we were not talking with, but obviously we would like to see them pass,” Rich Surace, vice president of business development for Energy Alliances, Inc., said. “So the ones that we did work with that didn’t, we’ll go back and kind of find out why. This is always a work in progress, and we want to find out why the constituents voted against it, and kind of learn from that.”
Clark Lawrence, of New Richmond, voted for his village’s program.
“It sounded good,” he said.
Tracey Suter, of the village of Moscow, also voted in favor of her village’s program.
“It’ll save expenses on the residents,” she said.
Now, the government leaders in the villages and townships where voters approved the issue(s) need to pass a resolution to formally approve the program(s), “so that they listen to what their constituents have said,” Surace explained.
Then, they’ll work with a group like Energy Alliances, Inc. to come up with a plan of governance — a step mandated by the state of Ohio — that outlines how the aggregation program is run.
“It kind of lays out the scope of work of the aggregation plan,” Surace said.
Next up are two public meetings where residents and small businesses, even those who voted against the issue(s), can find out about and weigh in on the plan.
Following that, an application is submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for approval, after which the local government leaders will work with an energy broker to investigate pricing options.
“The communities that passed, we’re going to mostly try to work with them the best we can to run a successful program, and the communities that failed, we’re going to go back out and find out why that happened, and take those lessons learned to the next round,” Surace said.