Delaware City Council listened to a presentation from Aspen Energy during Monday’s meeting on the prospects of transitioning the city to a renewable energy program for residents and small business owners, with the option to opt out for each customer.
Residents around central Ohio, including those in Columbus and Grove City, will vote on green energy aggregation plans on Nov. 3.
Aspen Energy was established in Ohio in 2000 and has a supplier base that includes AEP Energy. Aspen Energy is working with AEP as part of AEP’s Integrated Renewable Energy (IRE) program.
“We have a national footprint of electricity and natural gas solutions for commercial and industrial customers, along with residential and small business aggregations throughout the state of Ohio,” said Alan Samuels of Aspen Energy. “We have a deep focus on renewable energy, efficiency, and sustainability programs as they relate to supplying, and behind-the-meter projects.”
Samuel said Aspen Energy first connected with the city of Delaware when his colleague, Jay Sell, opened dialogue with Councilman Chris Jones in 2015 to discuss small business and residential aggregation. Today, Samuels said the driving force of the discussion is centered around a “100% local Ohio renewable electricity generation program for residents and small business owners.”
Samuel added, “At the end of the day, this is about providing residents and small business owners with three choices.”
Those choices include working together to become part of a 100% renewable electricity and gas aggregation program, “contributing to the positive impact on the environment with the additional goal of saving participants money,” Samuels said.
The other options include being a part of the program with the ability to opt into more traditional brown power and natural gas options at a slightly reduced rate, or opting out altogether, leaving residents and small business owners free to shop on their own. Samuels said the choice to opt out can be made at any time by residents and small business owners, with zero penalties as a result.
Samuels said AEP’s IRE program is “leading the pack, in our minds, for innovative, competitive, green power solutions.” He said some of the early adopters of the IRE program include the Google data centers in New Albany, John Glenn International Airport, and, perhaps, the cities of Columbus and Grove City, who have measures on the upcoming ballot.
Sell, who leads Aspen Energy’s aggregation efforts, said Aspen Energy currently works with approximately 45 communities around Ohio on energy aggregation programs.
Chris Bailey, who runs AEP’s aggregation efforts in both Ohio and Illinois, supported Aspen Energy’s request to Delaware, saying, “We work with them a lot. They are very professional, knowledgeable about aggregation and what it takes to implement a successful program from start to finish if you decide to move to the next step.”
Bailey went on to point out that cities are responsible for 70% of all harmful carbon emissions produced in the United States. He said those emissions are linked to climate change, pollution, illnesses such as asthma, and “other negative effects.”
“Opt-out aggregation is a great way for cities to significantly reduce its carbon footprint relatively quickly,” Bailey said.
“We are proposing to council that both electricity and natural gas aggregation measures be placed on a future ballot, which is the first step in creating community cohesion to make these renewable options even possible for consideration,” Samuels said. “Aspen Energy would represent the community’s best interest in this journey.”
Asked by City Manager Tom Homan what has changed in renewable energy today that has made it a much more viable option for cities than it was in years past, Sell said, “Local solar and wind assets are available now, whereas before, there weren’t nearly as many of them. And I think this AEP program is really trying to marry local renewable energy with cost-effective prices as well.”
Sell said the cost of renewable energy is the biggest variable that has changed, saying that Ohio renewable energy was available in the past, but at a very expensive cost that “wouldn’t make any sense at all for residents or small businesses.”
Homan called the program “a big lift” in terms of the city’s work should they choose to pursue the program and a ballot measure further. He said council needs to prioritize its projects for the next year, given how much it currently has on its plates, and that his office owes it to council to provide a further report to them on the program. However, Homan did acknowledge he has heard support for the program.
Homan said he plans to reach out to his counterparts in cities such as Worthington, which adopted an aggregation plan in 2018.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.