Martins Ferry ponders gas, electric options

MARTINS FERRY City council heard a report this week from Chris Munn, government aggregation administrator with Volunteer Energy, regarding the possibility of the city placing an option on the ballot allowing the residents to choose who they will purchase their electricity and natural gas from.

“Energy Government Aggregation is an option that you can set forth to your citizens and businesses where you can purchase as one their energy in bulk, and that would be electric or gas,” she said, adding that her organization has been working with gas for 10 years and boasts 19 cities and electric for two years in three cities. “Everybody’s saving significantly on electric.”

On gas there is a seven percent savings for the citizen, but they are offered a community reinvestment where once a year they will received a check for each program based on usage.

Volunteer Energy handled the administration for Energy Government Aggregation. Munn added that the city would approve every step.

Mayor Paul Riethmiller said council had agreed to allow the city buildings and fire departments be placed under the program to determine if any savings resulted after a year.

Riethmiller said a decision would be needed quickly in order to place the matter on the spring ballot. Council will consider the matter during the next two weeks. If council approves, Munn urged them to hold at least the first reading before the holidays, since 90 days are needed to send the information to the board of elections before the May 7 primary.

Riethmiller added that if residents vote in favor, individuals will still have the option of opt out of the program and remain with their current providers.

Munn said currently the cities they supply with electricity are saving more than 25 percent. For cities, the price per CCF for September billing and October gas was 40 cents. She added that they would have to consider the city’s American Electric Power information before determining their electric savings, and if customers dislike the results they may opt out at any time.

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