When a local government in Ohio decides to aggregate energy, they have the option of choosing between opt-in aggregation and opt-out aggregation. Both types of aggregations require the local government to pass legislation. Ordinances to create an energy aggregation program depend on the public’s feedback to be created, and are voted on. The specific steps and how they impact members of a community, however, differ between opt-in aggregation and opt-out aggregation.
When a community decides to participate in opt-in aggregation, legislation must be passed. The local government must adopt an ordinance or resolution to create the aggregation program. Once legislation is adopted, a plan for aggregation (including all rates and terms for customers to consider) must be created. After the plan is drawn up, two public hearings are held. Members of the community are able to express any questions, concerns, or suggestions they may have regarding aggregation. Lastly, the plan must be certified by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. This will give the ability to negotiate contracts with energy suppliers on behalf of the community.
Enacting opt-in aggregation is easier to do than enacting opt-out aggregation. Laws, legislation, and stipulations are easier to navigate, but it does have a downside. When a community chooses opt-in aggregation, no one is automatically enrolled. Each household in the community must individually sign up. Any household that fails to do so will not be included in the program and won’t receive the negotiated energy rates. Because of this, most communities choose to enact opt-out aggregation.
Opt-out aggregations include more steps to be enacted than opt-in aggregations, but most aggregated communities in Ohio choose them for the sake of their community members. With opt-out aggregations, the community is given more opportunities to participate in the legislative process and have their voices heard. Households are automatically enrolled in the program, allowing for more people to receive the discounted rate without needing to fill out and return paperwork.
To enact an opt-out aggregation, a local government must place the motion to create an opt-out aggregation on a ballot for the community to vote upon. If the motion passes, a plan of management and operation must be created. This must include all rates and terms for members of the community to review. Like an opt-in aggregation, at least two public hearings must be held. The public can voice any thoughts or concerns over the proposed plan. If the community approves the plan, each household must be notified that they’ll be automatically enrolled in the aggregation program unless they specifically choose not to participate. Usually, this notice is a letter that includes rates, charges, terms, and conditions, contact information like a phone number and/or website, and a postcard to mail back to opt-out of the program.
After the aggregation is in effect, all community members that haven’t opted out will be switched to the new provider. A mandatory notice from the utility supplier will be sent to customers. This alerts them that their service is about to be switched to the new supplier. This notice also includes an opt-out form to provide community members with a second opportunity to stop their enrollment in the aggregation. After the opt-out aggregation is fully established, a notice is sent every three years (or every two years for natural gas suppliers) explaining the terms, conditions, charges, and rates of the program, and includes an opt-out form.
What Happens Next?
The aggregator and/or chosen supplier receives an “eligible customer list.” This list includes everyone in the community that is eligible to be automatically enrolled in the governmental aggregation program. There aresome exceptions to automatic enrollment. Customers who are already enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus) are not eligible. Neither are those who are under contract with a different utility supplier. Overlap between the eligible customer list and the updated utility contract may cause some who recently switched suppliers to be accidentally enrolled, as well. In addition to the opt-out options above, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio also includes an online opt-out form for governmental aggregation.
Trebel specializes in both opt-in and opt-out aggregation programs and has built great relationships with many utility providers across Ohio. Every aspect of Trebel’s approach to aggregation is focused on our customers and ensuring that the communities we serve are protected. We perform extensive contract negotiation with suppliers, resulting in terms and conditions that shift risk from the residents to the supplier and /or utility. With over 100 aggregation programs in place, Trebel has a proven record of customer satisfaction dedicated to protecting people, communities, and renewable energy.