After much discussion, the Tabernacle Township Committee declined to join the Burlington County Energy Aggregation Program.
At last month’s meeting, the committee discussed the possibility of enrolling in the program. The program, announced last May, is a cooperative between the county and local electricity providers where the county will negotiate a “bulk purchase” of energy supply at a lower price than residents currently pay. County freeholders have partnered with the Burlington County Bridge Commission as part of this program.
Committeeman Stephen Lee IV said there were few potential positives that can emerge from joining this program, and hardly any guarantees. This further led to the town committee ultimately deciding against joining the program.
A 5 percent decrease in residents’ electricity rates was the number that was kicked around. However, this number was solely based on the fluidity of the market and therefore was not promised.
The biggest argument against joining was the lack of towns in the county that are buying into the program.
“Five out of 40 does not give me a fuzzy feeling, and those five towns that have decided to join are smaller than ours,” Committeeman Joseph Yates IV said.
A strong concern of the public was one Township Administrator Doug Cramer voiced at last month’s meeting — the idea of it being an “opt out” program as opposed to being an “opt in” program because opting out puts the burden on the ratepayers.
A Commercial Utility Consultant representative was at the meeting to argue the positives of the program, saying “the suppliers can’t bid on something if they don’t know how many people are going to be involved — it was an opt in program in ’04 and it failed because of this.”
The committee voted down the ordinance 3–2. Deputy Mayor Richard Franzen was one of the two votes to approve.
“As a senior citizen on a fixed income, I could use that extra $10 to $15 a month,” Franzen said.
Mayor Kim Brown also voted yes on the ordinance.
“We are providing residents the opportunity to save or opt out. A saving is a saving,” Brown said.
Committeeman Joseph Barton refuted that by saying the savings would benefit them, not our residents. The current provider, Atlantic City Electric, has a rate while this third party supplier cannot promise one.
Lee solidified the declining of joining the program with his overall lack of confidence in it.
“I have a real hard time telling people where they can get their electric from. It’s not our right to tell people those things,” Lee said.
In other news:
• Committee approved sending the engineering survey to make improvements at Patty Bowker Field and Pricket Mill Park. This is the second phase of a grant from 2011 and 2013, continuing the next grant period of the project.
• The next committee meeting will take place on April 27 at 8 p.m. in Town Hall.