Keeping their pledge to halt progress on an Energy Aggregation savings program if favorable terms were not met, the Manchester Township Council, with the support of Mayor Kenneth Palmer, last week passed a resolution of withdrawal from a potential cooperative agreement including other local towns.

Manchester officials had been in talks to join the cooperative agreement with Stafford Township and Lacey Township that would pool customers together to secure a bulk rate for electricity from a third party supplier at a cost lower than JCP&L. From the start, Manchester officials made it clear to residents that the Township would not move forward without favorable contractual terms.

The State Board of Public Utilities Rate Counsel recently reviewed the proposal and recommended that the Township should alter the terms of the agreement because it requires Manchester to remain in the cooperative even if the aggregation cost is above JCP&L’s price. The Township Council, Mayor Palmer and Township Attorney expressed the same concern during negotiations and agreed that the terms were unacceptable.

While residents would have had the option to opt-out of the aggregation program at any point, including during an unfavorable rate change, this process would require action by each residential electricity subscriber. As a safeguard, Township officials wanted the ability to terminate the program for all residents should the aggregation rate be beyond JCP&L’s newly adjusted price. Since the energy consultant in concert with Lacey Township would not agree to alter the terms, Manchester officials decided not to move forward with this cooperative agreement.

“Energy aggregation is a concept that the Township has been interested in for many years, as it promises savings on a basic necessity. As is evident by this withdrawal, the Council and I are committed to completing our due diligence before entering into any agreement,” said Mayor Palmer. “The terms must be favorable for our residents.”

Given its merits, officials now plan to move forward with energy aggregation, but without the use of a cooperative. The Township Council is expected to introduce a resolution to advertise for bids for a consultant at an upcoming regular meeting.

Energy aggregation provides for a lower electricity bill while retaining service from JCP&L. As Mayor Palmer previously explained, JCP&L will continue to service residents’ homes while the electricity will be delivered by another provider at a lower cost. The program works through an “opt out” system, meaning residents would be automatically enrolled unless they return a postcard indicating they do not want to participate. Residents with solar panels and those already enrolled in another energy program will not be included in the program.