If the town moves forward, residents would have the ability to opt out, officials said.
WESTFIELD, NJ — Town officials anticipate deciding next month if they will enroll residents in an energy aggregation program intended to reduce residential electricity costs while adopting more renewable energy sources.
Gabel Associates, the energy consulting firm the town had contracted to oversee its energy aggregation program, on Wednesday issued a request for proposals for power suppliers to contract with the town for providing residential customers' electricity.
The town council would on Feb. 9 decide on awarding a bid for the services, Robert Chilton, executive vice President and co-owner of the energy consulting firm Gabel Associates, told council members at their Tuesday meeting.
“We’re looking for and hoping for a win-win but, in the end, those bids are up to your final discretion as to whether or not you believe the contract is beneficial enough to warrant an award,” Gabel said.
The publicly noticed RFP states that an electric supplier would have the opportunity to provide electricity to about 10,000 accounts within the town and that questions on the RFP will be taken until Jan. 25, prior to updates being issues to the RFP on Jan. 27.
While a first in Westfield, government energy aggregation is not new to New Jersey. Gable Associates says on its website that to date, the firm has implemented 18 government energy aggregation programs on behalf of 24 municipalities in New Jersey.
In October, Westfield’s town council approved its contract with Gable Associates. Per the resolution listed in the meeting minutes, Gable Associates is charged with managing the program on behalf of the town for a fee of $.00078 per kWh of electricity used by customers participating in the local program.
Residents would be automatically opted into the program but would have the capability to opt out if they choose, Chilton said. Should the council award a bid for the program, he said, his firm would mail information about the program to residents, which includes a card they could then mail back to opt out of the program. Residents would also be able to opt out online, Chilton said.
His firm would also conduct a public information session to educate residents about the program, he said.
Councilman Mark LoGrippo asked what safeguards would be enacted to avoid what he called the “debacle” of the program’s rollout in Glen Rock, a Bergen County borough of nearly 12,000 people.
“Glen Rock, I think, early on put the program out there as something that would save significant amount of money for residents, in addition to the renewable energy content,” Chilton replied. “Over the life of the contract, there were ebbs and flows of the PSE&G rate. Over the life of the contract, folks saved a few dollars, certainly not a lot of money.”
As reported by TAPinto Glen Rock, while greater savings were initially expected at $75 per household per year with 40% renewable energy, borough officials found they could not meet that promise and in 2019 approved a contract projected to save the typical borough household $24 annually. The contract was then set for 18 months.
In Westfield, Chilton said, the goal would be to begin the contract in May if an energy company returns a favorable proposal. Pending award of a contract, he did not provide a specific estimate for savings.
Councilman David Contract, who serves as the liaison to the Green Team, said the the goal is to both save money and increase residents use of renewable energy. “It’s a double benefit,” Contract said.
“We want to take advantage of the opportunities in the market and, listen, if the bids don’t come back favorable, if we can’t deliver on those two criteria, then we will not accept the bids,” Contract said.
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