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Athens residents to see price drop in electricity bills

Though it’s been more than a year since voters signed on for electric aggregation locally, the plan — which provides discounted electricity to Athens residents — is just now falling into place.

Roger Wilkens, aggregation administrator for the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, said Athens residents who choose to be a part of the program should see deductions on their electricity bill starting Feb. 2. 

Electrical aggregation allows a government to buy electricity for its body as a whole, rather having each citizen to negotiate their own plan.

Athens County Commissioner Chris Chmiel said SOPEC signed a deal with AEP last week to supply Athens residents with electricity at 7.549 cents per kilowatt hour.

“They (AEP) said it was a 28 percent reduction (in price),” Chmiel said.

Chmiel added 25 percent of electricity provided by the AEP will come from renewable energy sources.

In addition to the contract with AEP, SOPEC also signed a deal with Empower Gas & Electric

Chmiel said the contract with Empower was more focused on “energy efficiency and creating more renewable energy production.”

“We’re talking about doing a big, three megawatt, 10 acre solar farm. Things like that,” Chmiel said.

Wilkens said the solar farm is still in its planning stages, adding SOPEC was considering a county-owned landfill on State Route 691 for a possible location.

“We’re hoping it’ll be completed within the year,” Wilkens said.

Together, these plans will provide Athens residents power for the next three years. However, residents have the option to “opt out” of the plan.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl said letters detailing how citizens could go about canceling the plan will be going out with residents’ next utility bill. After receiving the letter, residents will have a three week period to respond before they are automatically included in the plan.

“We’ll see how well it works,” Wiehl said.


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