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Township Council Hears About Energy Aggregation

3-24-14 meeting1

Gary Finger, an ombudsman with the state Board of Public Utilities, told the Township Council about energy aggregation.

The “how to” of the township entering into an energy aggregation contract was explained to the Township Council at its March 24 meeting.

Gary Finger, an ombudsman from the state Board of Public Utilities, explained the process by which the township would contract for energy supplies for all township residents.

Towns have had the authority to enter in the contracts since 2003, he said, but none did so until Plumsted did so in 2013.

In essence, the township would contract with a third-party energy supplier for electricity, gas, or both, at a per unit rate lower than what consumers are paying now.

Most residential customers would have to physically opt out of the plan, while businesses would have to opt in, he said. Those residential customers who have already signed up with a third-party energy supplier could opt in to the township’s plan if they wanted to, Finger said.

Customers can opt out of the plan whenever they want, with 30-day’s notice, he said.

“It’s not anything that’s long-term and binding,” he said.

Finger told the council that any “pushback” it receives would come from residents “who don’t know enough about teh program, who say you’re taking away their rights to have who they want.”

The aggregation contract also wouldn’t affect products such as PSE&G’s “Worry Free” appliance maintenance contracts, he said.

Finer said any cost savings “depend on market conditions,” but the average residential customer could save $120 a year in supply costs.

“To some that might seem like a lot of money, and to others that won’t make them switch,” he said.

Finger also said that the township could set up its contract so that the third-party supplier included some portion of renewable energy in the supply.

Councilman Phil Kramer (D-Ward 3) wanted the council to direct township manager Bob Vornlocker to begin working on a Request for Proposals for an energy consultant, but the council balked.

“I don’t know enough about it to even think about bringing in a consultant,” said Councilwoman Kimberly Francois, (D-At Large).

Deputy Mayor Brian Regan (D-At Large) suggested that the council wait until after the budget has been adopted before taking on this project.

“I’m not in a position to make a decision” about starting the process now, he said.

Vornlocker noted that the council would have to direct him to create the RFP through an ordinance.

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