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Howard Ain, Troubleshooter: Pulling the Plug on High Energy Bills

Updated: Thursday, May 8 2014, 08:13 PM EDT
CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Your electric bill is about  to jump and you could be paying much more than you should.
   
But there is a simple step your community can do to help cut energy costs.  The rate you play for electricity in Ohio is subject to something called the "Electric Capacity Charge" and it's heading up.  The reason for that has to do with how your electricity is generated.  Instead of using coal to generate electricity  like Duke, many other companies burn  natural gas because it is cheaper.
                      
But that natural gas is about to get more expensive because the bad winter we just had drained supplies.

Steve Brash of Duke Energy retail said, "Most of the electricity now that's in this region that we operate in comes from natural gas generation.  The natural gas prices are the highest they've been in about three years."                    
                             
In addition, new environmental laws are forcing many coal fired plants, like Duke's Beckford facility, to shut down.  That leaves our region with fewer facilities producing electricity.  As a result, regional regulators have allowed many utilities to increase a portion of your electric bill called the electric capacity charge.

Brash continues, "For our area it has gone from 27 dollars to 126 dollars. So it's about a 300 percent increase."   
 
So, the average electric bill will go up about 10 dollars a month or more.  But there is something you can do to reduce your electric bill.

Tony Rosiello, a Green Township Trustee, said, "Last year alone we were able to save our residents 1.6 million dollars over the entire process of aggregation.  Electric aggregation, it's been over 13 million dollars." 
         
Green Township is one of  20 communities around the area getting cheaper electricity rates for its residents through what's called "Government Aggregation."  Some community leaders say residents can switch to other providers on their own.  But as you might expect, rates offered to individuals are significantly higher than those offered to thousands of people in a community.

Brash said, "The more that elected officials hear from their constituents that they are seeing people in neighboring communities who are aggregated with lower rates, that gives them a little more incentive to start the process."                    

Rosiello tells Local 12, "If they're not doing it I think they ought to be able to explain to the residents why they're not doing it.  I think they need to be accountable."          
       
So, check with your community leaders to see if they're getting you the best rate you can get on both electricity and gas through aggregation.  If they are, make sure you're signed up for those savings.  If they're not ask them why not?  Because we all want to save money.
           
Some communities will get a break soon.  Voters in Reading and Sycamore Township approved electric aggregation in Tuesday's election.  Delhi Township approved aggregation for both electricity and natural gas.



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