Jefferson Township’s council crafted the bright idea to bring electricity rate savings to Jefferson residents. An ordinance passed at the November 13 meeting facilitates the township joining the Morris Area Energy Cooperative (MAEC).
The MAEC is a government energy aggregation (GEA) that offers power supply rate reduction and consumer protections that citizens cannot obtain on their own. By joining a GEA, the municipality combines the usage of all residents, commercial, and governmental properties to receive a lower energy supply price than what the local distribution company currently charges.
Mayor Eric Wilsusen stated he heard about this program from Mayor Michael Stanzilis of Mount Arlington, who said residents praise the program. Council President Debi Merz said the mayor of Mine Hill also gave the program the thumbs up. According the MAEC website, nine other municipalities are also utilizing the program.
How Rates are Set Today
Stacia Scaduto, a representative for energy consultants Concord Energy Services and Commercial Utility Consultants, presented information to the town council at the June 12 meeting. She explained that both of these companies are energy consultants, not suppliers, that promote community energy aggregation programs to municipalities.
Scaduto explained that Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) does not supply the energy or set the supply rate that appears on a resident’s bill. The price is set by the Board of Public Utilities in Trenton after a yearly Basic Generation Service (BGS) auction with electric distribution companies. There is an auction, a supplier/price is chosen, and everyone in that particular utility region receives that price.
What’s the Difference with a GEA?
While residents currently have the option to choose their energy supplier, those choices are often accompanied by caveats such as termination fees, penalty fees, and escalation charges. Scaduto acknowledges that some people may have gotten burned in the past by other private programs but emphasizes that this government program has no fees or penalties.
Scaduto said the difference is that the state only has an auction once per year, but a GEA can hold multiple auctions to make sure their price stays competitive. The average yearly savings is 10 -12 percent over JPC&L.
The current MAEC program rate is $0.0886/kWh through October 2020, compared with the JCP&L rate of $0.09143/KWh.
What Changes and is There a Downside?
Scaduto states that the residents will not likely notice any changes, other than a lower electric bill. JCP&L will continue to provide maintenance, respond to outages, read meters, and provide billing services.
There are no termination fees; residents are free to opt in and out at any time without penalty. There are no teaser prices; the supply rate will always be below or equal to the default rate of the state. There are no fees to participate in the program. Residents will continue to receive one bill, and budget billing is available.
Scaduto explained that most residents are automatically opted in to the program, but are free to opt out at any time without penalty. However, those already enrolled with a third-party supplier are not automatically enrolled and must call or opt in via the website to be provided future literature. The MAEC states the suppliers are not able to process the net metering portion of the solar credits, and solar customers are recommended to opt out of the program to avoid losing credits. Community outreach will be performed through mailings and meetings with civic groups such as senior citizen centers. Mailings will include the opportunity to opt out of the program.
Council vice president Kim Finnegan told The Jefferson Chronicle, “Any way we can help our residents and township save is a good thing.”
Look for notices in your mailbox soon. Although Jefferson’s meeting dates have not yet been announced, the MAEC will hold an informational meeting on January 14 at 6 p.m. at 10 Robert Street, Wharton to learn more about their program.