Natural gas effort delaying supplier search for Dayton-area cities

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Residents and small businesses in several Dayton-area communities wanting a new choice to supply natural gas will have to wait, perhaps until next year.

A natural gas aggregation group that could involve more than a dozen cities is delaying further steps in that process.

Miami Valley Communications Council Executive Director Jay Weiskircher said the organization recently took no action on one supplier’s natural gas aggregation proposals — one for a year and the other for two years — after talking with MVCC city managers.

“To a person … our preference would be to hold off on doing natural gas until sometime down the road,” Weiskircher told MVCC board members earlier this month.

Resuming that effort could range from six to 18 months, but MVCC consultant Palmer Energy suggested starting a natural program in warmer weather commonly results in more competitive rates, Weiskircher told the board.

“You would not want to start a program in the wintertime,” he said. “So that’s probably the window that we’re looking at.

“If we decide to hold off for a year, next year at this time would be an appropriate time to be looking at that,” Weiskircher added.

Communities expressing interest in joining an MVCC natural gas program have been Brookville, Centerville, Eaton, Englewood, Fairborn, Germantown, Huber Heights, Kettering, Miamisburg, Monroe, New Lebanon, Trotwood, Troy, Union, Vandalia and West Carrollton, Weiskircher has said.

Several of those cities are part of an electric aggregation coalition the MVCC formed last year. That group in June signed a 28-month contract with Akron-based electric supplier Energy Harbor, which is charging 6.57 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

The AES Ohio standard service offer for electricity as of June 1, 2023, was 10.807 cents per kWh.

Palmer said the MVCC electric program is projected to save residential customers $350 a year and small businesses about $984 annually.

But the savings Kettering residents and small businesses have seen with electricity may not be mirrored in a natural gas group effort, according to City Manager Matt Greeson.

“Due to the volatility of gas prices, it was determined that gas aggregation would not have the same impact on monthly gas utilities, and Kettering and surrounding cities will not participate in gas aggregation,” Greeson told the Dayton Daily News.

CenterPoint Energy’s standard choice offer from Feb. 1-29 was 3.66 cents per ccf, or 100 cubic feet, according to Energy Choice Ohio.

Centerville will not be part of a natural gas aggregation program until the city can be sure it will benefit residents and small businesses, said Mayor Brooks Compton, an MVCC board member.

“Unfortunately, the market does not support that at this time. The electric aggregation program has been a great success so far. We are hopeful to revisit gas aggregation in the future when rates may be more attractive and stable,” according to Compton.

The main rate differences with electricity and natural gas is that with the first “you’re shooting for cost saving,” but with the second the goal is “more of a stabilized rate,” Weiskircher said.

The MVCC in December received one natural gas proposal recommended by Palmer Energy. The organization’s board was set to talk about Constellation Energy’s plan, but the Baltimore-based business then told Palmer it was no longer interested in natural gas aggregation, Weiskircher said.

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