Granville Township grasps last chance for energy plan

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Time is running out on the option for Granville voters to decide whether they want to participate in energy aggregation, under which they would collectively buy power at a discounted rate.

The township trustees say the program would save residents money, and officials want to see the issue put on the November ballot. But they were told by Village Manager Steve Stilwell that the Granville Village Council’s schedule for upcoming meetings is too crowded to allow for discussion of the matter in time to get the issue to voters, Trustee Paul Jenks said.

The trustees weren’t ready to give up on the possibility of village participation. At their June 12 meeting, board members agreed to send at least one of the trustees to the council’s meeting on Wednesday to try to convince the council to discuss the issue in a timely fashion.

Scott Belcastro, principal of Trebel LLC, which acts as an agent in setting up energy aggregation agreements, told Jenks and Stilwell the township and village would have to decide by July 1 whether they want to put the issue on the ballot to meet the Aug. 2 filing deadline.

Jenks said Granville customers could save 10 percent on their electric bills under an energy aggregation deal proposed by Belcastro.

“Too bad. It’s a rare opportunity to save money,” Trustee Dan VanNess said.

Having heard Belcastro’s presentation, Stilwell said he continues to be conservative on the issue of energy aggregation, having seen instances in which jurisdictions that have adopted it have not been well served. “I can see where being inventive has caused problems in this era of deregulation,” he said. “Belcastro is advocating a referendum on a complex issue.”

Stilwell said American Electric Power will be undergoing a restructuring in the next couple of years, and he wants to see what options are available at that point. “It may be premature (to adopt energy aggregation) until we see what AEP is doing,” he said.

The township discussed with the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office the possibility of putting the issue on the ballot without village support. But Jenks said it isn’t clear if that is legal, and getting an opinion from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office will take months.

At the trustees’ May 22 meeting, Belcastro shared data showing residents of the township and village collectively could save $250,000 annually in electric bills through energy aggregation. Trebel LLC would contract with energy suppliers to provide electricity to Granville customers using AEP’s transmission system. Customers would receive two charges on their bill, one for power and the other for transmission.

To form an aggregation of electric customers, a vote of the jurisdiction or jurisdictions where it is proposed is required. Customers not interested in participating can opt out.

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