By SHANNON CAULFIELD
The Medford Sun
A representative from Commercial Utilities Consultants at the Dec. 4 township council meeting presented a plan that could potentially save Medford residents $1 million in energy bills.
Residents would continue to receive a bill from their current provider. The only difference is what is listed on the bill and a difference in savings, according to CUC representative John Fish.
The possibility of shopping for a third-party vendor comes from energy deregulation put in place by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.
According to the BPU website, under New Jersey’s energy deregulation law, the supply portion of residents’ electric or natural gas bill is separated from the delivery portion. With the supply portion open to competition, customers can shop around for the best price on their energy supplies. Their electric and natural gas distribution utilities will still deliver those supplies through their wires and pipes and respond to emergencies, should they arise, regardless of where those supplies are purchased. Purchasing energy supplies from a company other than the electric or gas utility is purely an economic decision; it has no impact on the reliability or safety of the service.
“Deregulation came out in New Jersey several years ago,” said Fish. “The idea was everyone should switch because you will save money.”
Both electric and gas can be included in the program.
According to the CUC website, the fee for this service is based strictly on performance. The plan calls for CUC to receive 50 percent of any credit or refund that they can secure from their analysis of residents’ past billings along with an equal sharing of any savings on future billings for a maximum period of 60 months. Many of the recommendations that the company makes do not last for the entire 60-month period of shared savings and would be limited to the period that the discount or rider is applied to the account. If a savings implemented by CUC does extend to 60 months, then that savings almost always will be applied to a customer’s bill for as long as his or her account is active.
If the council decides to move forward with the program, there is an opt-in and opt-out period for residents for 30 days. The period of time may be more flexible with the BPU, said Fish.
According to Fish, the individual resident stands to save approximately $300 per year.
“With larger usage, the person can save more,” said Fish.
CUC would hold an outreach program with township residents and then conduct an open auction to present the best rates.
According to Fish, if problems arise with residents’ utilities, they would still contact PSE&G or Atlantic City Electric, depending on their provider.
Additionally, there would be no cost to the township to set up the program.
According to Fish, however, 80 percent of people opt out of the program.
“The underlying issue with deregulation is the state did this 10 years ago,” said township manager Chris Schultz. “Only 20 percent have opted-in to the program. We need to look more into the program to understand the process.”
Township council did not make a decision and plans to revisit the topic at the next meeting.
In other news, the currently closed Jennings Road will be added to the road program.
“Let’s look to putting it on the road program sometime in the future, widen that, and open the road,” said Mayor James “Randy” Pace. “I’m not going backwards; I’m going forward.”
According to Pace, there will be a potential for traffic issues, and the problems aren’t strictly widening the area, or paving, both of which are under the paving program put in motion by the township.
A resolution will be prepared for the next meeting regarding Jennings Road, according to Schultz.
The next township council meeting will be held Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Building, located at 91 Union St.