By Neil Schulman, Long Branch — If the bids are right, residents may soon be getting their energy from a company that uses renewable sources to generate electricity.
At the Aug. 25 City Council meeting, officials approved an ordinance allowing for an energy aggregation program in Long Branch. This means that the city will solicit bids from energy companies to generate the power for residents.
Under the program, called Community Energy Aggregation, the city will hold a reverse auction, where companies attempt to submit the lowest bid. If the bids are lower than what is currently offered by the local electric company JCP&L, residents will, by default, switch to the new provider.
Residents may opt out if they want to keep JCP&L. City attorney Louis Rainone says that they can already change energy providers on their own. But Long Branch is hoping for an economy of scale; power companies who can get thousands of customers will offer a better rate than for a single customer.
To be considered by the city, companies must, initially, provide at least 50 percent of their electricity through renewable sources such as solar or wind power. The percentage of required renewables will gradually increase, and by 2030, all of it must come from those sources to be considered.
City resident Enis Bengul supports the program, and believes that Long Branch residents will quickly see savings. He switched providers on his own to a more ecologically friendly one, and his bill went from 12.4 cents per kilowatt-hour to 8.1 cents.
Bengul sees the potential of an economy of scale. “I urge you to partner with Asbury Park and Red Bank,” who are also pursuing community energy aggregation plans.
Charlie Kratovil, the Central Jersey organizer for Food & Water Watch, had worked with the city to get this program passed. He thanked the city’s staff for its assistance, and the residents who advocated for the cause.
Programs like this are important to combat global warming; non-renewable energy is a major contributor to that.
“It’s a chance to get what the people want, which is renewable energy which won’t pollute our air and water,” Kratovil said.