Leetonia to put gas aggregate plan on ballot

LEETONIA-Village Council will take a gas aggregate issue to the November ballot.

Council in special session Wednesday chose to let voters decide whether to join a gas aggregate that would allow council to join the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), a non-profit group that has a six-year cooperative purchasing agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to supply natural gas to customers using 500 cubic feet per year. Residents will save money on the supply portion of their bills and be able to opt out or in at anytime at no cost.

NOPEC will reimburse the village for any costs incurred from placing the issue on the ballot and advertising for public hearings if the issue is approved by voters.

Council removed a clause in the ordinance suggested by NOPEC which would have authorized village officials to enter into an agreement with NOPEC. That issue will be discussed at a later date if the voters approve the issue in November.

NOPEC is projecting 75 percent of the supply to be from local Utica gas by the end of the six year agreement with NextEra.

Half of council met before regular session June 18 and elected not to pursue the issue because they said they did not feel comfortable going to residents without knowing how much the residents could save through the aggregation.

Brenda Fargo, manager of NOPEC, who originally pitched the program to council a month ago, returned July 16 to assure council that if the issue were to pass, there would be no obligation to join NOPEC. She also noted that if council places the issue on the ballot, NOPEC will be able to provide the gas price for when the program will begin in March, and added that since January 2010 NextEra has consistently been below market price.