Natural Gas Aggregation for City of Athens | Winter 2017-2018
I want to take a few minutes to remind the community about some of the details of the Opt-Out Natural Gas Aggregation program that will become active for the City of Athens this winter (2017-2018)
Many natural gas customers are busy or unaware of their options to purchase natural gas from a retail energy supplier. These customers sometimes pay more for their gas supply under the default supply rate charged by the utility company. This default utility rate is called the Standard Choice Offer (SCO).
Opt-Out Natural Gas Aggregation is valuable because it selects a competitively priced retail gas product to replace the default utility rate (SCO) for the entire community.
SOPEC Communities Designated “SolSmart Bronze” for Advancing Solar Energy Growth
Four Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) member-communities, including the City of Athens, the Villages of Amesville and Somerset, and the unincorporated areas of Athens County, Ohio, have received a Bronze designation from the national SolSmart program for making it faster, easier, and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar.
This designation recognizes SOPEC member-communities for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand their solar activities, a SolSmart Bronze designation is a signal that these communities are “open for solar business.”
Electric Aggregation Is Up For A Vote – Know the Facts!
On November 7th, residents who live in unincorporated Perry County and the villages of Shawnee, New Straitsville, Coolville, and Chauncey have a chance to make this possible by voting to have their local government – the Mayor, Township Trustees, Village Councils — purchase electric power for all the community’s residents, businesses, and government buildings. So far, 345 communities in Ohio have passed electric aggregation on their local ballots. Over the last 5 years, communities have saved over $15 billion by either shopping around or having their local government purchase power for them through electric aggregation. Aggregation replaces the automatic generation price given to you by your utility with a new generation price that was negotiated by an electric supplier and your elected officials.
Major Savings for 10 Local Governments
In Ohio, electric utility customers who hold either multiple electric accounts, or one account with over 700 MWh of annual consumption, are considered mercantile customers. Under Ohio law, mercantile customers are not eligible to receive the automatic benefits of a community aggregation program, and must instead participate in a separate opt-in aggregation program. To help these customers also save on their electric utility bills, SOPEC features a mercantile aggregation program. Last year, Athens City and Athens County were the only participants in the SOPEC mercantile program. This year, after learning about the price achieved by Athens City and Athens County, SOPEC received interest from several local communities that wanted to participate in the program.
Athens, Amesville, and Trimble Customers Save More with AEP Energy Partnership Extension
The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council is excited to announce an extended partnership with AEP Energy that will provide many benefits for SOPEC customers in Athens City, Athens County, Amesville, and Trimble. The agreement followed a May 19, 2016, request from AEP Energy to pass through an additional $5.42/MWh charge for residential and small commercial customers to meet PJM required capacity performance billing. The pass through charge, which was not a part of the SOPEC contract and required SOPEC consent, would have raised SOPEC customer generation rates from $64.30/MWh up to $69.72/MWh.
Athens, Amesville, and Trimble Save 28% on Generation and Transmission
During December 2014, the SOPEC aggregation program negotiated a rate of 7.549 cents per kilowatt hour ($75.49/MWh) for 14,000 residential and small commercial accounts in Athens City, Athens County, Amesville, and Trimble. This rate includes volumetric charges for both generation and transmission services, achieving a 28% savings over the default rate for generation and transmission services offered through the AEP Ohio Standard Service Offer (also known as the “Price-to-Compare”). Through the negotiation, the rate was locked in for a three year term, with the savings taking effect beginning with the March 2015 meter read, and ending with the February 2018 meter read.
PUCO Announces PowerForward Initiative
PUCO has announced an initiative called “PowerForward”, intended to reform the electric utility service sector. Under PowerForward, the PUCO is examining grid reliability and outage management, smart meters and time varying rates, smart thermostat incentive programs, microgrids and distributed energy resources, and other energy utility technologies that offer improvements for the electric customer experience. PUCO will hold panel discussions to review the various technologies available and consider their application to the Ohio electric utility sector.
Ohio Power Company (AEP Ohio) Seeks Increase of Fixed Charges
AEP Ohio, which conducts regulatory business under the name of the Ohio Power Company, has filed a Standard Service Offer (SSO) case with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The SSO rate case includes a request for PUCO to approve an increase in the flat customer charge by nearly +120%. The more than doubled flat charge would be paid by customers no matter how much electricity they consume and would diminish the savings achieved by energy efficiency appliances and lighting that many home energy customers have already made. SOPEC testified before the PUCO on behalf of the more than 14,000 SOPEC electric utility accounts in the opt-out aggregation program, providing testimony against the proposed rate increase.
How Solar Can Help Circulate More Local Dollars
Ideally, solar system users will be paying a lower monthly bill to pay back the cost of the solar installation than what they were originally paying to buy power from the electric grid. This is not always the case, but nevertheless, more dollars are circulated in the solar economy. When one pays for electricity from the grid, particularly from an investor-owned utility, dollars must first be used to satisfy the shareholders, executive payrolls, and other services offered by the grid and its operators.
Busting The Myths on Aggregation: Myth #1 - Exponential Savings
The narrative spoke as to why people should not opt-out of the aggregation program and should trust that people would stay in, thus leveraging the power of numbers to achieve exponential savings over time.
Unfortunately, this is not how electric or natural gas aggregation works. If the aggregation program continued to provide exponential savings as more customers joined over time, then eventually the large number of aggregated customers would see near-zero electricity rates – which is impossible.