Marietta looks at pending utility rate

MARIETTA – Marietta residents should realize savings on their power bills beginning Sept. 1, according to a discussion during a meeting of city council’s special utilities committee Wednesday.

“Customers are now paying around 7.3 cents (per kilowatt hour), which is a 6 percent savings over the typical electric bill, although the savings may vary depending on power usage,” said Tom Bellish, president of Buckeye Energy Inc., broker for the city’s electric aggregation program.

He said beginning in September residents would pay a fixed rate of about 6.43 cents per kwh for the next three years.

The citywide aggregation program, which began in 2011, is designed to help city residents save on power bills through a bulk purchase agreement brokered by Buckeye Energy with supplier First Energy Solutions.

“Also with this new contract there is no termination fee if a customer opts out for a better deal with another provider,” Bellish said. Under the current contract with First Energy, customers have to pay a $25 fee if they opt out.

“What if a customer leaves for a better rate with another company, but then that rate goes up and they want to switch back. Can they rejoin the city aggregation program?” asked Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward.

Bellish said that would be no problem.

“First Energy has been very good about bringing people back on after they’ve opted out,” he said.

Special utilities committee chairman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, noted the expected power savings would be on the generation side of customers’ electrical bills only, while the distribution charges on electric bills are controlled by American Electric Power of Ohio.

He said the anticipated savings on the new contract would be reflected in customers’ October bills.

McCauley asked Bellish to contact First Energy and lock in the 6.43 cents per kwh rate.

Bellish said the city would have to sign an agreement with First Energy to preserve the lower rate.

Council will have to adopt legislation approving the new three-year aggregation contract with First Energy.