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WILDWOOD – “This is a potential money saver for residents,” Mayor Ernie Troiano said June 13.

Salmon Ventures LTD gave an energy aggregation presentation, but no residents attended. However, Stacia Scaduto of New Jersey Aggregation and Kimberly Downes of Salmon Ventures gave an “abridged” version. 

According to Scaduto, most N.J. citizens are unaware of how the aggregation program works. In New Jersey, utility rates (gas, electricity, water, and cable) are set by the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU).

Since the state deregulated the system 18 years ago (2001), aggregation gives customers “market power” to obtain lower rates for energy from independent companies. The Government Energy Aggregation Act of 2003 was passed by the Legislature, allowing municipalities to purchase below the state rate. 

According to the N.J. Aggregation website, “The aggregation refers to customers in a defined geographic area who choose to form a group for the purpose of purchasing a commodity like energy.”

Scaduto explained how the BPU holds an auction every February and accepts the bid of the selected company to supply the utility in question.

“The government is already setting the rate for you,” Scaduto said.

Atlantic City Electric does not generate its own power, according to Scaduto. They supply electricity to residents. If a municipality aggregates, N.J. Aggregation also holds an auction and selects a bidder whose rate is below the current state rate.

A contract is then signed, lasting up to two years.

When asked what happens after the contract expires, Scaduto said that the municipality is contacted before the expiration date and negotiations begin with the supplier.

“Ideally, there is no lag time,” Downes added.

If a lower rate cannot be negotiated, the municipality would return to utility service until a new contract could be arranged.

Troiano interjected that the program is only an “opt-out” option, not opt-in. Individual residents can request not to be included in the program.

Scaduto concurred. She emphasized that residents can opt-out at any time.

If the city aggregates, residents would be automatically included unless otherwise notified. All residents would receive an information packet.

“Everything you have today is the same tomorrow,” Scaduto said. Bills would come from Atlantic City Electric and service would be supplied by the same. Emergency repairs to poles, routine maintenance, and meter readings would be carried out by Atlantic City Electric.

Troiano said some residents would complain but that it would benefit taxpayers. Residents can expect 10-12% savings in their electric bills, said Scaduto. The program is not for commercial properties, solar, or those with third-party suppliers.

Fifty municipalities participate in the program, including the City of Burlington, Cinnaminson Township, Egg Harbor City, Lumberton Township, and the City of Linwood.

In 2016, the Burlington Board of Freeholders wrote a letter to N.J. Aggregation (http://bit.ly/2RkoGn5) thanking them for the “cost-saving initiative”.

Downes said innovative leadership is required to lead residents forward in savings and commended Troiano for his efforts. Troiano said he learned of the program at a mayor’s luncheon in Woodbine.

“Every penny counts,” the mayor said. An ordinance will be presented upon first reading June 26.

To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.

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