An energy aggregation plan would save Brick residents $180 per year on their electric bills, a representative from Colonial Power Group told Brick officials this week.
Brian Murphy, of Colonial, gave a presentation to township council members, pledging electricity rates for township residents would go down if the township entered into what is known as a Community Choice Aggregation agreement with the company.
Under such an agreement, the township would give a company permission to be the energy supplier for all of the township's households. Each electrical customer would still receive a bill from Jersey Central Power and Light, call JCP&L regarding outages or problems and, in most respects, never notice a change. But one line on the monthly bill – the supplier of energy – would change from JCP&L's "Basic Generation Service" to another company.
Murphy said JCP&L's basic generation service draws its energy from investors in the power market, usually large companies such as Citigroup, Conoco and JP Morgan. Instead of accepting JCP&L's rate, a community aggregation program, by law, would give customers a lower rate.
Such aggregation agreements stem from a decision made in 1999 to deregulate New Jersey's electricity market. The problem, Murphy said, was that rules on how to handle the new market weren't written until 2008 and revised until earlier this year. As a consequence, "the market never really developed," he said.
About 14 percent of households statewide, most likely about 4,700 in Brick, take advantage of the program. If the township signed an aggregation agreement, those few households would keep their current supplier.
Residents would also have the opportunity to "opt out" of the aggregation agreement and keep JCP&L as supplier. But otherwise, most customers would save money without noticing any changes, he said.
Councilwoman Susan Lydecker asked Murphy is customers who use so-called "equal payment plans" – paying an estimated, flat rate for electricity each month rather than a monthly rate determined by a meter reading – could be accommodated under the aggregation agreement.
Murphy said such plans are not available in New Jersey, though they are in other states.
But overall, he said, customers would be guaranteed to save money.
"The township can't engage a rate that is higher than what the customers are paying now," said Murphy.
There was little discussion on the matter at a council meeting this week. In order to take advantage of the plan, under state law, the council would have to pass an ordinance allowing energy aggregation, go out to public bid to find the best rates, then notify residents.