ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury residents' electric bills will decrease if the township enrolls in an “energy aggregation” program being considered by the township, said Roxbury Councilman Dan Kline.

Kline, one of three members of the council who studied the pros and cons of energy aggregation, gave a presentation on the program at Tuesday’s council meeting. The council members appeared to like the idea but said they wanted to hear input from constituents before proceeding.

By joining an energy aggregation program, the township would “get access to a private energy market available through a private auction.” That means it could attain reduced energy rates for Roxbury residents, Kline said.

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Double-digit Cost Savings

Residences would continue to be serviced by Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L), but the electricity would come through third-party suppliers at a reduced cost. “Based on current market conditions, individual accounts can potentially save 12 percent off their entire bill (and) … 17 percent or more off the supply portion” of their bill,” said Kline.

He noted that many New Jersey municipalities, including Mount Arlington, are enrolled in energy aggregation plans and he said all of them delivered reduced energy costs for those who opted-in. “This program has a 100 percent success rate,” Kline said. “Every municipality that’s enrolled in the program has saved money.”

Kline explained energy aggregation in fast-food restaurant terms.

“The analogy I like to use is a township-wide combo meal,” Kline said. “When you order more you get more for less. So as a town, we get access to a special menu – or a private energy market – which is not available to the public. And it’s not available because, as a town, we can aggregate or combine to place such a large order.”

Automatic Enrollment, Easy Exit

If the council opts to enroll the township in the program, residents would automatically become enrolled unless they are currently enrolled in an individual contract with a third-party electricity supplier.

Kline stressed that any resident can “opt-out” of the township program, either before it begins or afterward.

“If you have no interest in participating, you don’t have to,” Kline said. “We’re not going to force you to do anything ... And if you see your neighbor’s energy bill and realize you’ve made a mistake, you can opt back in whenever you’d like. You can opt in and out as often as you like.”

Kline stressed that the program impacts only the energy supply portion of electric bills, not the delivery portion.

While the council appeared to endorse moving forward with the program, it did not decide when that will happen. Council members, particularly Roxbury Councilman Robert DeFillippo, said it is crucial that the township clearly inform residents about the plan before proceeding with implementation.

“If we don’t do it right, if we don’t communicate clearly to the public, then we’re not doing them any service at all,” he said. “They are not going to know what this is all about. My concern is that, where people might say, `Yeah, I’d like to do that,’ they’ll (instead) say no because they’re afraid of the project. That’s why I’m focused on communication.”

Kline said the program would be only for residential customers, at least to start. 

"This one would only be residential," he said. "If successful, the Energy Committee could also explore residential gas and commercial energy going forward."

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