By Michelle Dupler
Franklin Township voters will have a second chance to approve or reject participation in an electricity and natural gas discount program.
Township trustees unanimously agreed at a special meeting this month to send the electric and natural gas aggregation questions to the ballot again in May.
The ballot measure would authorize energy consultant Scott BelCastro of Trebel LLC to negotiate electric and natural gas rates on behalf of township residents to get a lower price than they pay to AEP or Columbia Gas.
Voters rejected separate ballot measures regarding electric and natural gas aggregation in the Nov. 5 general election. The electric aggregation failed 53 to 47 percent and natural gas aggregation failed 54 to 46 percent.
BelCastro said at a Jan. 30 meeting that he’d like to try again on the May ballot and take a different approach to informing township residents about how they’d benefit from the aggregation programs.
BelCastro said aggregation would have offered guaranteed savings on residents’ utility bills, and he was surprised voters turned it down.
Residents who attended the meeting wanted to know if BelCastro could guarantee how much they’d save before they vote for aggregation.
BelCastro said it would be unlikely he could tell them what their specific savings would be until after the election because market conditions could change.
One concern was the possible cost to the township of another election, but trustees learned that with a gubernatorial primary in May there should be enough races on that ballot to dilute the share of costs the township would have to pay.
“It will be very cheap this time because it is an even year and a primary year,” BelCastro said.
Trustees wanted to confirm costs with Franklin County elections officials before voting to send the aggregation measures to the ballot. They agreed to come back and vote on Feb. 4 to meet the Feb. 5 deadline for submitting ballot questions.