yes on Issue 4
Yellow Springs voters have an easy choice when they go to the polls on
Tuesday, May 6: they should approve Issue 4, which would set up a municipal
aggregate system to secure natural gas contracts. By voting yes, local
residents would give the Village the authority to negotiate on behalf
of the community natural gas rates with suppliers.
With its experience running its own utilities and negotiating electric
rates, the Village should be able to help residents choose suppliers at
fair rates. And thats the ultimate point of aggregation: chances
are the Village could negotiate rates that are better, and likely lower,
than residents could. Forming a large buying group here would give individual
residents more buying power. At the very least, a yes vote would give
local residents another option for purchasing natural gas.
Approval of Issue 4, the only local issue on the May 6 ballot, would allow
the Village to establish an opt-out system, meaning that most residential
and small commercial customers would automatically be included in a buying
group. While the program would not be a moneymaker for the Village, the
local government would be responsible for negotiating gas rates for Yellow
Springs customers. Villagers, however, would not be required to participate
in the program. Instead, they could opt out of the buying group and choose
their own natural gas suppliers.
The Village wouldnt be out on a limb with this program. It would
work with AMPO, Inc., an affiliate of American Municipal Power of Ohio,
the Villages electricity supplier. AMPO is experienced with utility
deregulation and would be able to help the Village negotiate fair rates
Some may be leery of this issue because its part of Ohios
natural gas deregulation program. But at this stage of the game, with
the natural gas industry in its sixth year of deregulation, concerns for
the system would be best addressed with the Ohio General Assembly than
by voting against the Villages plan. This area is now a deregulated
market, so getting the Village involved could provide some security for
local customers, since the Village is not out to make a profit on aggregation.
This is the third special election Yellow Springs voters have had to decide
in the last four years. Compared to the other two a divisive recall
election and a referendum on a contentious affordable housing project
Tuesdays election is straightforward and not controversial.
Creating an aggregate buying group here is not a gamble. And given the
fact that the Village would be working for its residents, voting yes on
Issue 4 makes sense.