To the Editor:
The Hopewell Township Committee dutifully posts its agenda and the supporting documents on Friday prior to its Monday meetings. That’s how members of the public discovered that the Committee intended to introduce a new Ordinance that would force every resident of the township into an electrical aggregation.
The idea is simple enough. Move everyone into an economic partnership in an effort to reduce rates for all. It sounds great in theory, but these aggregations have rarely worked in practice. One was nearly introduced here in 2014 but could not muster the required votes. In other towns, such efforts are preceded by information sessions and significant outreach.
Had this passed, all residents of Hopewell Township would have been “slammed” into the aggregation. There is an opt-out process, but we wondered about very busy members of the public taking on the task of learning whether to stay in or opt out.
In other towns, such aggregations have not resulted in significant savings. The new law requires that electric providers no longer pester members of the community with incessant phone calls. Perhaps that sounds familiar. Solar companies, credit card companies, and others are forbidden to call. They call anyway.
At their last meeting, the committee rushed to introduce the ordinance. In the face of significant, quickly organized opposition from those present at the meeting, and with significant help from Committee Members John Hart and Julie Blake, the Committee delayed the vote, but there are two points worth emphasizing.
Good process requires that they do their homework before getting to the meeting. In this case, the wording on their ordinance was nearly identical word-for-word to electrical aggregation ordinances in three other New Jersey towns. One section of the ordinance was clearly aimed at townships with strong Mayors. Our town has a different form of government. At a minimum, someone was lazy.
All of this leads to two simple questions. First, is it really too much to ask that our local government commit itself to a healthier process? Even if this is a wonderful idea whose time has finally come, they ought to have at least reached out first to the community to gauge interest and support.
Second, I note in passing that Zoning Board member Andrew Borders was the only member of the public not to rise up and question this premature ordinance… the only member of the public not to urge the Hopewell Township Committee to slow down and pursue such initiatives more thoughtfully and carefully.
Instead, Mr. Borders used his three minutes in a verbal assault on Committee Member John Hart for comments that Mr. Hart may have made at an earlier budget meeting. Mr. Borders, who is relatively new to our community, is anxious to see the huge demographic shifts that will send our school taxes skyward. He is entitled to his beliefs, but I sure do wish that he would come to see that our local government needs help in moderating their enthusiastic pursuit of every controversial idea they encounter.