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Clean Energy Aggregation Topic Of Special Council Meeting

Bob Chilton of Gabel Associates explains an aspect of clean energy aggregation during a special Township Council meeting on June 20.

The pros and cons of clean energy aggregation were discussed at a special Township Council meeting on June 20.

The meeting was necessitated by the submission of petitions requesting that a question be placed on the November ballot asking residents if they want to participate in an aggregation program, which could lead to lower electric prices, and decrease the Township’s carbon footprint.

That latter goal would be reached by the Township contracting with a third-party energy company which produces electricity generated by at least 24.5 percent renewable sources.

That percentage of renewable sources could be increased up to 100 percent, but that would carry with it a higher price tag.

Energy aggregation is when a group partners to buy energy from a single source with the purpose of lowering their energy costs.

Under the program, the Township would seek out bids from the third-party providers and, theoretically at least, pick the one offering residential customers the biggest savings on their electric bills.

The Township could use the services of an energy consultant, such as Bob Chilton of Gabel Associates of Highland Park, who was on hand at the Council meeting to explain what energy aggregation is.

Chilton’s ultimate message was not exactly music to the ears of Council members: residents may not save any money with aggregation.

That, he said, is due to the volatile energy market, exacerbated by extreme weather events and the war in Ukraine.

“Even if markets do improve, I think you’re looking at 5 percent (savings), if you’re lucky,” he said. “Not a huge savings.”

“I would say it’s varied from, when the market has been favorable, around 5 percent to around 15 percent, depending on market conditions,” he said. “More recently … I’ve seen savings as low as 2 or 3 percent get awarded.”

The program would be transparent for residents, Chilton said. Their electric charges would appear on PSEG bills as they do now, and PSEG would be responsible for any problems.

Customers who are now on equal payment plans would continue to be on those plans, Chilton said.

Whatever price is approved by the Council would remain for the term of the contract, he said.

A sub-committee of the Council will meet with the organizers of the petition to talk about the language that will appear on the referendum question.

As an alternative, the Council could pass an ordinance establishing an aggregation program, obviating the need for the referendum.

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