Walbridge hopes to profit from aggregation
Written by By DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 09 January 2010 07:32
WALBRIDGE - The village hopes to join its neighbors by later this year in reaping the financial benefits of utility aggregation.
At Wednesday's meeting, council voted to put natural gas and electricity aggregation issues on the May 4 ballot. Village voters will decide if Walbridge would automatically aggregate and purchase natural gas and electricity for customers.
Mayor Dan Wilczynski said if the measures are approved, the village could join a pool and get discounted rates on utilities.
He said the estimated savings is 6 percent for private homes and 4 percent for businesses. In addition, the village would be eligible for a grant and could use the money as council wishes.
Last month, Lake Township administrators announced they had received a $100,000 Powering Our Community grant from FirstEnergy Corp., as part of its participation in an electric aggregation program. Perrysburg received $194,000 and Northwood will get $100,000.
Lake Township has been in aggregation programs for six years.
Wilczynski estimated that a village grant could be $50,000. Solicitor Brian Ballenger added, though, that neither the grant nor the savings is a guarantee.
"This is just our effort to try to get in," the mayor said.
Councilman Ed Kolanko asked why FirstEnergy would provide grants and discounts when almost everyone in the village is a customer already.
Ballenger said an aggregation contract allows FirstEnergy to negotiate better rates since it has a formal commitment from dozens of communities.
He also said village residents would have "opt-out" periods where they could refuse to join the aggregation. There will be two public hearings.
Also at the meeting, Wilczynski swore in new councilwomen Sue Hart-Douglas and Jan Sawaya. Kolanko and Pat Fox are also starting new terms.
Maureen Jacobsen was re-elected council president, with Kolanko voting no.
After the meeting, he said he wasn't comfortable with voting yes.
"I think there's a couple of us that could do a good job, myself included," he said, adding that he believes Jacobsen will represent the village well.
Council committees were reorganized for the year, with a new one - business and economic development - added.
"It's just such an important area. With the new Toledo mayor, Mike Bell, I think there's a lot that's going to happen regionally," Wilczynski said.
Here are the committees; the first person listed is the chairperson:
Business and economic development - Sawaya, Jacobsen, Kolanko.
Personnel and human resources, Hart-Douglas, Kolanko, Jacobsen.
Budget and finance - Kolanko, Sawaya, Kathy Heldt.
Parks, recreation and community events - Jacobsen, Heldt, Fox.
Infrastructure, buildings and lands - Fox, Hart-Douglas, Sawaya.
Safety and criminal justice - Heldt, Hart-Douglas, Fox.
Budget and finance will meet Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the town hall.
One of the issues on the agenda will be applying for a grant through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Nature Works Program, which received a first reading on Wednesday.
Wilczynski said the grant, which requires a 20 percent village match, could fund pool and parks improvements. Despite the village's financial crunch - the pool won't be opened this year due to budget constraints - the mayor said the funding is too good to not investigate.