Perry township residents to vote on gas plan

PERRY TWP. – Township residents will have the opportunity to give their views about possibly placing a gas aggregation issue on the November ballot during a public hearing at 6 p.m. July 14.

The hearing will be held at the administration building on North Ellsworth Avenue, followed by a public hearing on the tax budget and then the regular Board of Trustees meeting set at 6:30 p.m.

Sean Logan, a former Columbiana County commissioner and former state representative for the area, spoke to the trustees as a consultant with the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council about gas aggregation.

Gas aggregation allows a government to get a better price for natural gas for residents through a gas aggregation program.

He described the non-profit NOPEC organization as a council of governments using cooperative purchasing to get the best price possible for natural gas.

He explained if the voters agreed to gas aggregation, they would be giving the township trustees authority to negotiate for a supplier, which could be NOPEC if trustees choose. After the vote, two public hearings would be required, which NOPEC could hold, to explain the gas aggregation process to the people. He said NOPEC would also hold informational sessions, which aren’t required.

Logan explained that all entities who join NOPEC would fall under the agreement NOPEC already has in place with NextEra Energy as the natural gas supplier of choice and get all the advantages of that deal. He described NextEra as a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, the largest purchaser of natural gas in North America. By the end of the six-year supply agreement, he said the deal calls for 75 percent of the gas to be purchased from Utica shale development in Ohio, which could mean even less cost for customers.

He said there’s no quoted price right now, but said it will be less than the current program, with a variable price option and a 3-month fixed price option.

Logan also said the program is consumer-friendly and streamlined for the government entities who are members. Residents can opt-out of the program at no cost at any time and can also rejoin with NOPEC charging no rejoining fee. The government entities also don’t have to file paperwork with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. NOPEC handles everything and is made up of representatives from the various governmental entities who are members.

He said several area townships have already agreed to seek the ballot issue, including Knox, Butler, Hanover, Center, Middleton and Unity. Several others have it under consideration.

In other business, the trustees approved a road restoration agreement with the Salem Utilities Department for the East 12th Street water main replacement project. Salem Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart gave a brief overview of the project to trustees, explaining that a 2-inch water main between North Lincoln Avenue and North Union Avenue will be replaced with a 6-inch water main. Hydrants will be provided and the road will be paved after the project from curb to curb, at no cost to the township.

He said there will be a slight inconvenience for residents during construction, but the project isn’t costing them anything. The entire cost will be covered by the Salem Utilities Commission.

The trustees also gave permission for road supervisor Darreck Farrell to travel to Virginia on an overnight trip to look at a roller for sale for the road department, if it’s still available. The trustees approved paying for an overnight stay, mileage and meals for one.

In a recent special meeting, the trustees declared a property at the corner of Georgetown Road and Prospect Street at 1141 Prospect St. a nuisance due to high grass and weeds.

Trustee Don Kendrick reported seven zoning permits have been issued this month.