The Hopewell Township Committee conducted a work session at its April 15 meeting as a preliminary step in educating both members and residents on energy aggregation, a major topic discussed at the last meeting.
Representative from Concord Energy Group, Stacia Scaduto, fielded questions from both the Committee and the public about energy aggregation and what it would mean for Hopewell Township, if an ordinance were to be passed in the future. Timothy McDonough, Mayor of Hope Township, also spoke and gave his municipal experience as Hope put this program into effect in 2017 and just reached $1,000,000 saved with this program.
“PennEast should not be able to take our land nor take advantage of public investments and preserved open space and farmland to build an unneeded pipeline,” said Mayor Kristin McLaughlin. “But as my mother taught me, it’s not always enough to be against something, we need to look for different, more positive alternatives.”
If an ordinance were passed, the Township would receive bids from third-party electricity suppliers and, if selected, residents would receive information regarding the plan and a comparative cost to their current electricity supplier. Residents will have the option to opt-out of this program if they chose, and can conversely join the program at any time.
Some members of the public expressed concerns including equal payment plans for utilities, other municipalities in New Jersey that do not participate in this program, dispersing information properly to residents, and, for residents who still use natural gas, what that means for this program and how it still plays into the PennEast pipeline.
While the work session did prove to be informative in both understanding energy aggregation and listening to public concerns, it was just the beginning of the conversation.
“We certainly don’t want to make perfect the enemy of good in terms of doing what’s right for the community,” said Committee member Julie Blake. “That being said, I also know how important it is to have process for anything that touches every household in this township. This process is going to take time. It’s important that we do this right.”
Michael Aucott, a member of the Environmental Commission, also gave a brief presentation asking the Committee to pass Resolution G, which urges U.S. Congress to address global warming with the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. He spoke about the increased amount of carbon dioxide on our planet and that the rate it is increasing has only been excelling over the past hundred years.
“The more we delay, the more risk there is,” said Aucott.
In regards to roadwork in the Township, Mark Kataryniak, Community Development Officer, alerted the Committee that Federal City Road will be closed for about a three month period starting in May for PSE&G utility work. It will be closed during the day from about 9:30 am to 6 pm to shorten the duration of the project, with a full restoration at the conclusion of the project.
The Committee also announced that it is now on Instagram (@hopewelltownshipnj) in hopes to offer another way to inform residents about all Hopewell happenings, rather than just the Township website and Facebook.
The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for May 6* at 7pm.
*Edited to reflect April 29 meeting cancellation.