WILMINGTON — A representative of Clinton County is obtaining bids from electric suppliers for a new rate because the current aggregation contract will expire next spring.
Bill Bradish, account manager with Palmer Energy Company, assists the county with renegotiating electric aggregation rates and recently met with county commissioners to update them on proposals from suppliers.
While it’s permitted to enter into a new contract at this juncture, Bradish recommended holding off a while and getting “refreshed numbers” from interested suppliers down the road a bit — but prior to the expiration date of the existing agreement with AEP Energy.
As of Sept. 27, AEP Energy and First Energy have made the best proposals, said Bradish.
Their numbers are in the range of 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for an electric supply charge. That compares to the current 6.45 cents rate in the existing aggregation agreement, and to a rate of about 5.5 cents with the utility provider DP&L, he said.
According to Bradish, under the proposed rates, the average Clinton County household would be looking at an annual savings of about $100 a year compared to going with the utility provider’s (DP&L’s) pricing.
Clinton County and the City of Wilmington both have electric aggregation programs. In order to get the best pricing, these two programs have worked together and use the same supplier. The programs are separate, but the County is the administrator for both the City and the County programs.
Governmental aggregation is a way for large groups of consumers to place themselves in a position to save money on their electric bill by bringing citizens together in order to negotiate a better price than a person can individually. These groups are called aggregated buying groups — hence the name “aggregation.”
A government entity — in this case, Clinton County — chooses the electric supplier for all of the customer-members in its group.
Bradish said presently there are “just shy of 5,000 participants” in the county electric aggregation program.
Clinton County Commissioners President Kerry R. Steed said, “More than anything else, what we want to communicate to the public is, there is a renewal that’s coming and it’s going to be substantially cheaper than where it is now. And it could be even substantially cheaper than what is being offered by the multitude of companies that are calling and emailing and sending you [the general public] notices at this very time.
“The buying power that the City and the County have, and the work that Palmer [Bradish’s company] has done for us, have created for us the buying power that’s allowing us to negotiate a cheaper rate than what they could potentially get by themselves. So, it’s important, if they’re in a [third-party] contract and it’s going to expire, let it expire so they can roll into this one,” Steed said.
The commissioner also mentioned a community-wide savings potential with aggregation, saying there is “over $1 million annually potentially” that local residents could keep in their pockets rather than the money ending up outside the county with an electric supplier.
Because of a higher cost for consumers, Bradish said his company does not recommend that commissioners choose an offer that would supply 100 percent renewable energy.
“Not that we’re against renewable energy by any means. But at this time, our obligation to you and your constituents is to get the best rate we can,” Bradish said. He also said if an individual is interested in 100 percent renewable energy, he or she can pursue that option by enrolling individually.
The term of the next contract is expected to be three years. Like the existing agreement, there will be no penalty for early termination by a customer-member, said Bradish.
“Thankfully we had that in our current agreement. As you [commissioners] know, our rate in this [existing] agreement turned out to be not very good,” he acknowledged.
Like the current agreement, the supply charge in a new contract will be a fixed rate, meaning the price a customer-member pays will not increase through the life of the contract.
The electric aggregation program started here in 2013.
If someone is with a third-party electric supplier, they will not receive a letter asking whether they wish to join the aggregated buying group. But nevertheless, such a person can join the group by calling the electric supplier that’s chosen and contracted with, and then join later when their individual enrollment expires, Bradish said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.