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Town Officials Provide Viewpoints on Plan for Consumer Aggregation of Electricity Costs

A plan to save nearly $2.5 million on Brick residents' annual electric bills is being considered

Both Brick Township’s Mayor and Council President took time this week to discuss a planned program to aggregate services for electrical energy consumers in town, which will ultimately lead to those residents receiving a marked cost savings on their energy bills.

Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis referenced the passage of a 2003 law allowing municipalities to aggregate services rendered to electrical energy customers, and noted Brick has roughly 26,000 residential dwellings that are billed for energy costs.

“Obviously, with 26,000 homes, you’re going to get a better price for electricity than just as one person,” said the mayor. The mayor added that those customers designated to be involved with the aggregation plan may voluntarily opt out at any time, if they so choose.

Acropolis pointed to Colonial Power Group as the group the township is considering to utilize for the aggregation arrangement. Colonial put in the most affordable bid for the plan, which seeks to generate over $200,000 in revenue for Brick Township each month, or a total cost savings of nearly $2.5 million per year.

“They recently made a presentation to the Business and Finance Committee, and we expect to see a presentation from them to the public at a council meeting in September,” Acropolis said.

Acropolis gave his preliminary approval of the aggregation concept with one specific caveat: that the projected annual savings of nearly $2.5 million are only earmarked for property tax relief, and not for use in the general fund come budget time.

“The only way I’ll agree to this is if that money goes to relief for the taxpayers,” said Acropolis.

Council President John Ducey also explained that the energy company will tentatively make a public presentation on the concept at the first township council meeting in September.

“We’d rather have the energy company come in and have their professionals explain the plan directly to the residents, rather than hearing about it from the council,” said Ducey.

Based on what he has learned of the planned arrangement thus far, Ducey appears to be in favor of the cost aggregation.

“It seems like a great idea. It makes money for the town, and relieves the taxpayers by making their energy bills lower,” said Ducey.

The council president added that after the energy company’s presentation is delivered, the council would then have a first reading for an ordinance on the aggregation program. Ducey explained that reading may occur at the same meeting in September when the presentation is given, or at the very next one following the presentation.

Here We Go Again August 10, 2012 at 04:14 PM
The Power Supply Question: So what is a local official to do when approached by third party suppliers with contract offers that promise, and in some cases may be able to deliver eye-popping savings? The answer is to step back and review the things to take into consideration when looking to reduce electric costs.
Slippery Slope August 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Do you mean like all the money we save on our TV cable bills? Why give exclusive rights to one cable company? let them compete for our service, just like the phone companies. Competition reduces prices.
JD August 10, 2012 at 05:09 PM
And the reason for this now is due to the Solar Project.... The SERC prices are going down, down, down... and if someone ran the numbers, the project may not be able to payback the loan.. so, in comes Acropolis... betcha part of the deal is purchasing power from Solar Project at current KWH prices charged to consumers!!! So, in effect, taxpayers are subsidizing the Solar Project 2 ways!!! through the loan and through the KWH purchases!!!
Daniel Nee (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 05:15 PM
There are no exclusive rights given to Comcast in Brick whatsoever. Any company could come in, lay lines and provide cable service in Brick. They need what is known as a "franchise agreement," but such agreements are not exclusive, including the current one with Comcast. If another cable provider wanted to offer service here, they could. None have chosen to do so, except for FiOS (which is under a statewide franchise).
Slippery Slope August 10, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Okay Dan, maybe I am incorrect about "exclusive rights", but I know that the town did sign an agreement with comcast to be the service provider, a 10 year deal I think, to the "non-exclusive rights". What is that al about? Its a deal to make it next to impossible for a competeing company to afford to do business in Brick township. What was the contract that Brick signed with Comcast Dan? Do you know?
Slippery Slope August 10, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Dan, If there wasn't a contract and a deal between comast and the town, cablevision would be available in Brick also. The non-exclusive contract makes it cost prohibative for a competing company to come into brick. Just look at all the problems a Huge company like Verizon is having.
Daniel Nee (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Lyin -- Comcast signed a non-exclusive franchise agreement. The agreement lasts 15 years. That doesn't mean another company is barred from doing business in Brick. It doesn't make it any easier or more difficult for another company to do business in Brick. What you said about Cablevision is patently untrue. If they wanted to spend millions of dollars laying their lines in Brick, they could easily sign their own franchise agreement with the town and do so. Nobody is stopping them. The issue, of course, is the millions of dollars they'd have to spend to "wire" the township for their service. Since there is another company doing business here already, they probably figure it wouldn't be worth it. Also, for the record, FiOS is covered under a statewide franchise, so their presence in Brick has next to nothing to do with township government in the first place.
Daniel Nee (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 08:11 PM
If you want to read the agreement, it's chapter A500 of the township code: http://www.ecode360.com/6902497#6902497 Also, you can review the NJ Cable Television Act for the statewide laws governing this stuff: N.J.S.A. 48:5A
Joseph Woolston Brick August 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
FIOS is done in Brick and will only be available in the areas that have it now, there will be no expansion. So those of us in the north end of town will have no choice except for Comcast or one of the two satellite companies. Comcast has become the worst nickel and dime company on the planet. I cut the cord almost two year ago, I only have Comcast for Internet service and as soon as I find a better Comcast will be fired as my Internet company as well. I put up an antenna and I don't miss Comcast one bit, the HD is better and so is the sound. Comcast is pricing themselves out of business. What really gets to me is the way they charge for HDTV which is available over the air FOR FREE! Comcast is supposed to retransmit signals from the networks exactly as they are transmitted, but if you want to receive HDTV on CH. 2,4,5,7,11,13 and Philly channels you have to pay them $9.95 extra for each HDTV you have in your house and now they are forcing another $9.95 HDTV charge if you have more than one HDTV in your house along with the $9.95 per box charge. The boxes that are provided by Comcast DO NOT GET HDTV unless you rent the $9.95 box, now people complained about being charged extra for the local HDTV broadcasts, so Comcast did a switcharoo and started charging $9.95 for the digital box and the HDTV box, the original rent on the digital box was $7.99. So now it appears that they aren't charging extra for HDTV and they ARE. Continued.........
Joseph Woolston Brick August 10, 2012 at 10:46 PM
If the town had NOT signed a fifteen year agreement with Comcast, it would have given us better leverage to control Comcast's nickel and diming. The town could have had a smaller lease time and when the town recognized Comcasts prices were getting out of hand, they could have threatened not to renew their franchise agreement. Did you know Comcast's prices are cheaper in the Toms River Bayville area? Hmmm wonder why? Many of you have bought HDTV's and your thinking your watching HDTV broadcasts and many of you aren't because you don't have the proper box, if you have two or more HDTV's in your home get ready to sell your first born to have the properly hooked up and running they way they should be. My neighbor called me over and said he was disappointed with his HDTV's that he had bought, that the clarity and all was off. I went over and sure enough, all he had was the usual boxes. He checked with Comcast and after discussing the prices he balked at their "fix" for the situation, I suggested an antenna and to cut the cord, but he went with Satellite at a much lower rate. Every week in my neighborhood there are more Satellite dishes and regular TV antenna's going up. seeing those antennas bring me into a nostalgic mood and more money in my pocket to spend on something else, like food.
Slippery Slope August 10, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Thanks for the clarifications Dan. You are a wealth of knowledge and one heck of an editor. Can you tell me if the town can negotiate cable rates with Comcast, just like they negotiated Free cable for all government owned buildings in town including fiehouses and schools? It would be great if they could hold down the rates for the tax payers. Thanks again.
Daniel Nee (Editor) August 11, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Thanks for the compliments! To the best of my knowledge, local municipalities can't micromanage cable rates. The Brick franchise (which is pretty standard) specifies that the rates must comply with existing state regulations. That is regulated by the state Board of Public Utilities. More info at: http://www.nj.gov/bpu/about/divisions/cable/ The cable industry is somewhat misunderstood. I'm not defending the practices of cable companies (I'm a customer too... I see what goes on) but rising cable rates often have a lot to do with how much the cablecos are charged by the television stations themselves. ESPN alone, for example, gets around $5 per month, per subscriber. And that's one channel (well, a few now) out of hundreds. So while there is obviously profit and room for practices we customers often do not like, a lot of the charges are "pass through."
Daniel Nee (Editor) August 11, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Joseph -- Right now, there are no Philadelphia local HD channels available in Brick on Comcast. It's been a bone of contention for Eagles fans in town for a long time. We'll probably do an update story on it when football season gets underway. Regarding other local areas, my family has an account on the LBI system (which is tied to the TR system). The rates are virtually the same - in fact, I think they might be exactly the same now. The equipment fees are all identical. The history of the situation is that Brick is a semi-closed-off system since it was the former Stohrer Cable system. Toms River was part of the much larger Adelphia system, which stretched far south. LBI was "Island Cable," then TKR, then TCI, then AT&T Broadband, then Comcast. Comcast has tried to combine the Ocean County systems and unify the lineups, but the physical headends are different so there are subtle variations between the three of them (Brick, TR-Stafford-Little Egg and LBI).
lifelonginbrick August 11, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Honestly this sounds like a good idea if it is as they say. Yes 26,000 people can negotiate as a group for a better rate than just one person. What I don't get is this basic concept is a great idea for electricity but for some reason was felt as a bad idea for waste removal. Why was there a push to throw each individual out to the wolves to find a way to remove their garbage which is waaay more costly per household then just having the municipality do it or heck if hey wanted to get rid of public works then why not negotiate with a private company on what it would cost for 26,0000 people?
Tom Spano August 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM
If the money is earmarked for property tax relief, why go thru the town? Just give the savings to the electric customer directly. The town doesn't need to be middle man. Any time you give money to the town they will spend it. I say to Brick, be careful.
Glenn August 11, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Dan, I believe the Philly HD channels are coming 8/16 or 17.
BW August 11, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Sorry but this sounds like the same BS we got when they installed the red light cameras. The money collected would go towards property tax relief, and our taxes went up 24%. So does this mean our taxes will go up another 24% if the town goes with it? Reminds me of those calls you get several times a week. You know those telemarketers who call and ask to speak to the person incharge of your electric bill. Well heck if they go with this and I get one of those calls I can give them Acropolis' and Duecys' home phone numbers and let them get calls during dinner.
Mark Story Jenks August 11, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Interesting analogy.
Slippery Slope August 12, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Americans use too much electricity. They need to share with the world and stop polluting the earth. I will close ahalf the power plants in USA.....
Can't handle the truth August 22, 2012 at 02:06 PM
your a moron, the Lyin how can you talk so stupid.
Sal Petoia September 13, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Don't understand why we have to pay for the dozens of channels we never watch! The arrangement should be that the customer pay only for the channels they choose to receive. Cost to the consumer could be cut considerably, but of course the cable company would see a loss in revenue. Guess it'll never happen!

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