Finance committee to hold hearings for gas and electric savings plans | Business
CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls has scheduled two Budget and Finance Committee public hearings on the city’s plan to form community buying groups for electricity and natural gas. The committee will hold an evening hearing on Monday, January 30 at 6 p.m., and a second hearing at its regular meeting the next Monday, February 6 at 1 p.m. Both hearings will take place in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 801 Plum Street, Downtown.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to negotiate savings and put real money back in the pockets of city residents, so that we can enjoy the benefits of competition that other communities in the region have seen,” Qualls said.
Last Election Day, Cincinnati voters overwhelmingly approved Issues 44 and 45, authorizing the city to negotiate group buying rates for electricity and natural gas. Qualls sponsored the ordinances to put the measures on the ballot.
More than 300 communities across Ohio have saved hundreds of millions of dollars on their electric bills since Ohio made this innovative tool — known as aggregation — available to communities in 2000. Aggregation has proven to be an effective way for residential and small business utility customers to save money. According to a report last fall by Ohio Citizen Action, electric rates negotiated by other buying groups in the area ranged from 2 to 3 ½ cents per kilowatt-hour less than Duke’s generation rate, or “price to compare.”
Vice Mayor Qualls has invited administrators from nearby communities to describe their programs and the savings they’ve achieved. Green Township Administrator Kevin Celarek will speak at the January 30 hearing; Springfield Township Administrator Michael Hinnenkamp will talk about the savings their communities have seen.
Once City Council and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio have approved a plan, the city administration will put the contracts out to bid, analyze the responses and recommend providers to the City Manager. The city will then notify residents of the terms of the contracts and how the program will work, including how residents can opt out if they wish. The city expects that the process should be completed ― and residents can start saving money on their monthly bills ― as soon as June 1. Read the administration’s report on the process and timeline here.
Qualls has also introduced a motion directing the administration to seek information from potential providers about cleaner and renewable sources of energy and the potential for energy efficiency programs as part of the contract bidding process.
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