Farmingdale enters new energy cooperative

FARMINGDALE – Members of the Farmingdale Borough Council have authorized the establishment of a cooperative pricing system and entered into an energy agreement.

The passage of a resolution enters Farmingdale into a new cooperative pricing system to be known as the Monmouth-Ocean Area Energy Cooperative (MOAEC) with the borough serving as the lead agency.

Officials said the borough’s broker, Commercial Utility Consultants (CUC), got the borough “the best rates” from TriEagle Energy. Council members took the action in a 5-1 vote on Nov. 8.

Council President Michael J. Romano and council members Erich Brandl, Kaaren Corallo, Patricia A. Linszky and Dr. Don Steinfeld voted in favor of the resolution. Councilman George Dyevoich voted no.

Mayor James Daly said when his predecessor, Mayor John Morgan, died in March 2016, “apparently there was some paperwork that never got done” regarding the municipality’s energy cooperative with Howell and Point Pleasant Beach.

Daly said Farmingdale officials learned about the paperwork issues because representatives of TriEagle Energy contacted them to ask if the borough was going to continue to do business with them.

“Now, all of a sudden, Howell, without even reaching out to (Farmingdale or Point Pleasant Beach), decided they are getting out of (the co-op) and going to a new energy company,” Daly said.

Daly said Farmingdale had to form a new co-op with Point Pleasant Beach in order to remain with TriEagle Energy and save electricity customers from the “rigamarole” of switching companies.

Howell was the lead agent of the previous co-op agreement.

Daly said he believes about a dozen families are benefiting from the co-op. He said he did not like how Farmingdale was “brushed aside.”

Dyevoich said Howell and Farmingdale have been “good neighbors” and said Daly and Howell Mayor Theresa Berger should at least have a conversation. He said the situation could have resulted from an oversight and recommended the resolution be tabled until both mayors had a conversation about the issue.

Daly said he felt it was no longer necessary since Howell did not reach out to inform Farmingdale officials they are changing electricity providers.

“I talked to two (Howell) Township Council members and they just said they are doing what they want to do. You know why they are doing it, they changed because a (public official) works for that company. That is why they are changing. I am not like that, I do not play that game,” Daly said.

Dyevoich insisted it could have been an oversight.

“It was not an oversight based on the two council people I spoke to. They had this plan going on for a while, as far as the mayor, maybe (it was an oversight),” Daly said.

Several council members said the action “slighted” Farmingdale and that Howell, being the lead agent in the co-op, should have reached out.

“The least (Howell) could have done was notify us and I do not believe it was an oversight, I just think they believe that as the larger entity they made a decision and everybody was just going to go along with it,” Linszky said.

Romano said Howell “does not need us. There are 1,400 people (in Farmingdale) compared to 55,000 people (in Howell), but show us a little respect. I know we are small, just show us a little respect.”

Asked for a response to the comments that were made by Farmingdale officials, Berger referred the question to Howell Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro and said he was involved in the matter.

Nicastro said, “Howell has a great working relationship and partnership with our neighbor Farmingdale and frequently explores cost savings and shared services among both towns and will continue to do so in the future.

“In 2014, the Township Council proposed this (energy aggregation) plan for Howell to help reduce electricity costs for Howell residents. Our consultant reached out to (Morgan) and to Point Pleasant Beach as it was thought that (better) pricing could be realized by forming a co-op with these two towns,” Nicastro said.

According to Nicastro, the energy aggregation program did not realize the hoped for savings and Howell officials decided that moving forward, “it was best not to continue the co-op practice.”

“When the contract between CUC and Howell expired, a new request for proposals (RFP) was issued for an energy aggregation consultant. Based on the RFP returns and better savings on the consultant’s end, Gabel Associates was awarded the contract by Mayor Berger and the council. We are still awaiting (information) on electric rates,” Nicastro said.

Howell Township Manager Brian Geoghegan said Howell officials “have retained Gabel Associates from Highland Park as a consultant to assist in preparing bid documents. We expect to be going out to bid in December to select a company for energy aggregation.”