October 30, 2003


2-year contract distributed in natural gas program

Yellow Springs residents and many small business owners now get to choose their natural gas provider as part of a Village aggregation program.

An estimated 1,300 customers have until Nov. 7 to decide whether they want to purchase natural gas under a contract the Village has with Interstate Gas Supply (IGS) of Dublin.

Most local households and many small businesses should have received a letter from the Village last week notifying them of the contract and offering them the option to opt out, or not participate in, the Village’s program.

All eligible customers will automatically join the program and receive their natural gas from IGS unless they fill out a form, enclosed in the letter, saying they do not want to participate. Those opting out of the program will continue to receive gas from Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, unless they choose another supplier.

The Village has secured a two-year deal with IGS to provide natural gas to Yellow Springs. AMPO, Inc., a for-profit affiliate of American Municipal Power of Ohio, the Village’s wholesale electricity supplier, negotiated the contract for the Village.

Starting in December, IGS will provide natural gas at 69.90 cents per cubic feet (CCF) through November 2004. The price does not include local utility tax, sales taxes and service fees.

Vectren will continue to be responsible for delivering natural gas to town, responding to emergencies, reading meters and billing.

Next year, the Village and AMPO, which specializes in natural gas and electric aggregation, will renegotiate the second year of the contract with IGS. Customers will be able to review the contract, and new rate, and have the option to opt out of the agreement.

Earlier this month, the Dayton Daily News reported that residents in six south suburbs were offered a natural gas contract with Shell Energy Services at 70.092 cents per hundred cubic feet from December through April.

Residents can compare natural gas rates on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Web site, www.puc.state.oh.us, through an “apples to apples” price comparison feature. The site lists Vectren Energy Delivery as offering a rate of 72.632 cents per CCF. Vectren’s price can change each month, however, depending on the market.

Vectren Source, a subsidiary of Vectren Energy Delivery, is offering a fixed rate of 85 cents per CCF.

The Village’s natural gas aggregation program was officially initiated last May when voters passed a ballot issue authorizing the Village to negotiate gas rates on behalf of the community.

Village Manager Rob Hillard said that he was pleased with the efforts of the Village AMPO, but he said he remains cautious about this new venture. He said that the aggregation program’s success will be determined after the winter and will depend on how severe the weather is.

Still, Hillard said that the program has already worked because Yellow Springs now has a competitive natural gas market. “One of our main goals in proceeding with this program was to provide options for the citizens of Yellow Springs,” he said. “We wanted to create a level of competition in a public utility that hasn’t had it before.”

—Robert Mihalek