Committee members Kevin Kuchinski and Courtney Peters-Manning, along with Concord Energy representatives Maria Gregg and Vicki Malloy, gave additional information on energy aggregation and fielded questions by the public at the Watershed Institute last week . This was the first of two information sessions. Hopewell Township will hold one more informational session on Thursday, January 30 at 7pm at Stony Brook Elementary School.
Energy aggregation, which involves the Township bulk purchasing energy from a supplier for residents, has become a popular topic in New Jersey, with Pennington Borough recently passing its energy aggregation ordinance and dozens of other towns following suit. For MercerMe’s recent coverage on energy aggregation, please see Dispelling Energy Aggregation Myths.
“We need to lead next-generation programs to relieve our reliance on fossil fuels,” Kuchinski said. “We think there’s an opportunity to deliver next-generation cleaner energy to our residents.”
Kuchinski and Gregg explained that energy aggregation is being adopted by some towns along the route of the proposed PennEast pipeline to show that towns do not need to rely on non-renewable fossil fuel. Residents who adopt energy aggregation will receive the base rate of renewable energy in New Jersey of 28 percent, while PSE&G and JCP&L are grandfathered from the law and have no obligation to provide as much renewable energy.
“[PennEast] continues to advocate that there’s fossil fuel solutions for New Jersey,” Kuchinski said. “PennEast’s fundamental argument is that we need more natural gas in New Jersey to service New Jersey residents. That in fact is not true.”
Gregg additionally outlined the process of how residents will be involved in energy aggregation. If the ordinance passes, all residents will be automatically opted into the program and receive a letter in the mail with information as well as ways to opt out of the program either by telephone, online, or by mail. After 30 days, residents who do not opt out will be opted in, although they can opt out at any time, with no fees or penalties for opting out regardless of the timeframe.
Furthermore, if residents are already with a third-party supplier or have solar energy, they will not be opted in although they may opt in at any time. Budget billing is also an available option, as is a renewable energy plan allowing residents to have up to 100 percent renewable energy, albeit for a higher price.
“What you see is what you get, no bait and switch,” Gregg said.
Kuchinski additionally noted that residents can save up to, on average, around $150 to $200, depending on energy usage.
“Everyone feels that our taxes are too high,” Kuchinski said, referencing the Township’s more than 4 percent tax increase last year. “Municipalities have been able to save money on behalf of residents [with energy aggregation].”
The rate for residents will also be fixed, and if at any time it exceeds the rate at the Board of Generation Services auction, the program ends.
However, Township resident Jon Edwards raised the concern of scammers, with Edwards personally receiving a scam call about his PSE&G bill. According to Gregg, Concord Energy and the Township will never contact residents via phone or door-to-door. All official program contact will come via mail.
The Township will hold one more informational session on January 30 at 7pm at Stony Brook Elementary School.