City Council Moves Forward with Effort to Aggregate our City’s Utilities
Aggressive effort aims to bolster consumer power and sustainable energy options for Columbus residents
[Columbus, OH] On Monday, May 4, 2020, Council began the process of empowering residents to have more local control over their utility use, through Community Choice Aggregation (CCA).
By aggregating, local governments can buy energy on behalf of their residents and businesses from an alternative supplier while still receiving service from their existing utility provider. CCAs are a good option for communities that want more local control over their electricity sources, and more renewable energy options.
“Community choice aggregation is essentially collective bargaining for buying energy.” said Councilmember Rob Dorans. “By banding together, Columbus residents gain significant leverage to both lower our energy bills and support clean energy development because our large customer base we as a City can negotiate for the best deal with providers.”
Council believes this will result in competitive energy costs for residents, increased development in renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and increased quality in customer service for Columbus residents.
CCA participation is always voluntary. CCA customers continue to receive the same delivery and maintenance services from their local utility, with a single utility bill.
In order to become an energy aggregating community, a ballot issue will need to be approved by voters in the City of Columbus this November.
To move toward the November ballot, Council passed ordinance 1111-2020, to enter into a contract with Trebel LLC, which will assist the City with developing a CCA program. Trebel LLC will also design and implement a communications plan to support the City’s November ballot initiative and develop a process for energy providers to work with the City. “This contract with Trebel LLC is just the first step in the process that will take place over the next six months, and beyond the November election,” said Dorans. “Later this summer, when we are able to safely convene a public meeting, the Public Utilities and Environment Committees will host a joint public hearing on the topic before placing the initiative on the ballot.”
Cincinnati passed a CCA program in 2012, and they have seen tremendous impacts to the local economy. In addition to lower bills, they ensured local renewable energy installation benefitted their community by creating contracts to guarantee job training opportunities and wage rates, creating good jobs that support families. Cincinnati also established Solarize Cincy, which connects residents with discounted pricing and qualified installers for home solar.
“This is all about putting power in the hands of Columbus residents,” said Dorans. “We have a choice to make about how we want to get our energy –- we can continue to play by the same old rules, or we can take a bold step forward as a community and seek to lower energy costs and move towards a more sustainable energy supply for our residents. I’m excited that our residents will have an opportunity to make this decision at the ballot box come November.”