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Belpre residents to see cost increase

BELPRE — Belpre residents participating in the city electric aggregation program will see an increase in the cost as a scheduled price reset goes into effect at the start of June.

Belpre City Council held its regular meeting Monday evening. Due to COVID-19 cases, the Belpre City Building has been closed since November, with all business conducted by mail, phone and electronically or by appointment. Monday’s meeting was held by Zoom, with most council members meeting in-person in the Belpre Council Chamber and the public attending virtually.

Luke Sulfridge, with the Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council, said the electric aggregation agreement approved by council in October 2020 will see its price reset as scheduled on June 1. There will be a slight increase in the cost due to market pressures, from 4.867 cents per kilowatt hour to 5.64 cents.

Sulfridge said the new cost will be locked in for two years which may be a positive since prices in general are expected to rise over the next couple of years. The current cost is an interim, or gap, rate for Belpre which ran from October through the end of this month since the city joined the program mid-year.

SOPEC represents multiple counties and communities in Southeast Ohio as a single aggregation group with a board featuring members from each participating community. The goal of the aggregation program is to negotiate a fixed price for electricity for program members over a period of one or two years. Residents in participating communities can choose to opt out of the aggregation agreement and will pay the market value for electricity, which can vary from lower to higher than the aggregate cost.

In other business, council approved the first reading of a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a franchise agreement with Ohio Power Co., a unit of American Electric Power, to provide access to the company’s lines and poles located in the city’s right of ways.

Two more readings will be held by council at future meetings.

Council also approved the second reading of its annual resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) program partner agreement with the Washington County Commission.

A final reading will be held at a future council meeting.

The Economic Development Committee will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 24, prior to the next regular council meeting.

Wayne Towner can be reached at wtowner@newsandsentinel.com

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