Greene County natural gas aggregation plan’s new rates to start in the fall



County administrator says they will go for bids on natural gas this spring; program has opt-out features

After Greene County voters approved natural gas aggregation on the ballot in November, the county is working to supply residents and businesses in unincorporated areas with better rates through collective buying power.

Commissioners passed their Plan of Operation and Governance for their natural gas aggregation program earlier this month.

Greene County works with energy broker Palmer Energy to collect bids from natural gas suppliers. According to Amy Hoffman of Palmer Energy, once the company has received prices from suppliers, Palmer and the commission will negotiate a one- to three-year contract with the supplier “providing the best rate for program participants,” she told commissioners.

The companies will go to bid on natural gas sometime in the spring, Huddleson said, and the program will start in the fall.

Customers can opt out of Greene County’s aggregation program at no cost up to 21 days after a notice of rates and terms of the aggregation is mailed to them. Residents can also join the program at a later date, even if they opted out in the first place, also at no cost, though the same rates cannot be guaranteed, public documents say.

Most natural gas customers in Greene County’s unincorporated areas are currently under Columbia Gas of Ohio or CenterPoint Energy, according to public documents.

Ohio consumers can choose where their energy comes from right now by searching “PUCO apples to apples” on the internet, and choosing their suppliers. Under aggregation, a community entity negotiates with suppliers on behalf of a larger group of eligible households, nonprofits and small businesses in an effort to save money.

This gives those residents, businesses, and local governments collective buying power, County Administrator Brandon Huddleson said.

“If I go to a supplier with one house, I’m at his mercy,” Huddleson said. “If I go to a supplier and I have 1000 houses, now I have some buying power. If I go to him and I’ve got 10,000 houses, now maybe I’m driving the bus. That’s exactly what this is about.”

Greene County passed and entered into an electric aggregation contract in 2021.

“Because the cost of natural gas has been low for a long time, but now it’s rising — along with everything else — there’s renewed interest in that,” Huddleson said.

Last year, AES Ohio raised their price per kWh (kilowatt-hour), from its “standard offer” price of 4.805 cents to 10.91 cents. A kilowatt-hour is how much energy you need to run a 1,000-watt appliance for an hour.

For electricity, Greene County residents that are part of the electric aggregation program are locked in at 4.47 kWh through May of 2024, less than half of AES Ohio’s rate.

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