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Council Delays Utility Aggregation Vote Until Spring

Monday August 10, 2015 11:04 AM

Johnstown Village Council took no action on an emergency ordinance Tuesday, Aug. 4, aimed at placing a utility aggregation request before voters in November.
In order for the issue to make the ballot, the request had to be submitted to the Licking County Board of Elections no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5. Therefore, the ordinance was declared an emergency, meaning the first reading, public comment and vote were held all at once.
Councilwoman Cheryl Robertson said she had some concerns about the proposal, which was for an aggregation deal with Aspen Energy, based in Powell.
Aspen representative Jay Sell told council in June aggregation could help the village negotiate better gas and electricity rates for residents.
Sell said more than 300 communities in Ohio have already gone through the community aggregation process with Aspen Energy.
“I’m not sold on this, to be honest,” Robertson said at the Aug. 4 meeting. “I don’t like the government to be more involved than they need to be. Plus, if things did go south with this, we don’t have the resources to listen and respond to everyone.”
Mayor Sean Staneart said he’s been indifferent about the idea since the beginning and he was fine with postponing the issue until spring.
Resident Lewis Main said postponing it would be a good idea because there would be a higher voter turnout then because of the presidential primary.
Councilman Bill Van Gundy agreed that waiting would be a wise decision.
“I feel we’re rushing this,” he said. “We, as a council, have not had enough time to think about this and until we can get our bearings, I ask that this be tabled. I’d like to talk to our residents about this and hear from other communities such as Upper Arlington.”
That city’s contract with FirstEnergy Solutions for electric aggregation ended earlier this summer and officials opted not to seek another contract because the rates weren’t favorable.
A motion to approve the ordinance was not made or seconded so the ordinance died.
The next council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at 599 S. Main St.

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