Letter to the Editor: Hopewell Township may pick your energy supplier for you

To the Editor,

Surprise! The Hopewell Township Committee majority has resurrected the concept of Community Energy Aggregation. By not listing this topic on its agenda of “Future Agenda Items,” the township committee majority was able to catch the entire township off-guard.

No surprise! This arguably most secretive township committee has found new ways to dampen public input. The township letter announcing “initial outreach sessions” arrived in the mail just days before the first session on Dec. 11, during the busy Christmas season. The second session, on Dec. 17, occurs during the busier week before Christmas. The first session is at 7 p.m., but the second is at 6 p.m., which is likely to limit a public that goes to work and expects 7 p.m. meeting start times.

Energy Aggregation is a theory, allowed by law, that if residential electric users in a municipality band together, maybe their electric rates will be lower than if they don’t band together. The concept is based on economy of scale that larger entities can access lower costs.

Of course, the largest energy suppliers in New Jersey are probably already PSE&G and JCP&L. Maybe that’s why only about 50 New Jersey municipalities currently participate in the Energy Aggregation program and approximately 500 municipalities do not participate.

Meanwhile, Energy Aggregation is a stacked-deck. It is an opt-out program, not an opt-in program. If approved by a municipality, it is government-required residential participation unless residents jump through hoops to opt-out, which is an inconvenience at best.

At worst, a slammed public may not realize that they were slammed into Community Energy Aggregation in the first place. Energy deregulation is supposed to be about choice, not government compulsion.

No one can guarantee that there would be any savings in a deregulated energy market of supply and demand. What we do know is that the presenters have been the middlemen, who make money by encouraging municipal participation. That’s like the fox illuminating the hen house.

Harvey Lester