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Council Member Patrick Mcgee speaks at a city council meeting Monday, August 22, 2016. (CAMILLE FINE | FOR THE POST)

City Council: Athens gas bills may soon be aggregated

Athens City Council members introduced an ordinance on Monday night with the intent to enroll citizens of Athens in a gas aggregation program, that they hope will save residents money.

The program would allow the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council to aggregate gas bills in Athens, or allow citizens to pay for gas as a community.

Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said the aggregation program would be similar to the the city’s current electricity program.

“(The program) will work like our electric aggregation program,” Knisely said. “People will automatically become part of the gas aggregation program unless they notify us that they do not wish to participate.”

In a previous Post report, Knisely said the goal of the program is to help reduce gas bills in Athens.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce the amount that consumers pay for natural gas,” she said. “This helps that happen.”

There will be two public hearings to address citizen questions on June 5 and June 12 at 7 p.m. before a second ordinance, which will finalize the program, would be presented in late June. It would pave the way for aggregation to begin in the fall, Knisely said.

Council members also said they would be sending a letter to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to oppose a bill that was recently passed to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act.

Councilwoman Chris Fahl, D-4th Ward, read the letter at the meeting.

“For many, the healthcare gained through the Medicaid portion of the ACA was literally life-saving,” Fahl said. “To put it bluntly, the AHCA will kill people. Please, do not condemn people to a life of sickness and pain.”

Councilman Jeff Risner, D-2nd Ward, criticized the AHCA and other actions taken by the Trump administration.

“The travesty that’s been pulled so far is stunning … the hypocrisy behind it all,” Risner said.


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