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MOUNT VERNON - The Knox County Board of Commissioners is offering the opportunity for residents and small businesses in the unincorporated areas of Knox County to save money on their utility costs by voting at the November election to start electric and natural gas aggregation programs.

The commissioners have passed resolutions to place two issues on the Nov. 2 ballot. One will ask voters to approve an electric aggregation program and the other will ask voters to approve a natural gas aggregation program.

Ohio Law allows political subdivisions such as Knox County to form aggregated buying groups to purchase electric generation and natural gas supply on behalf of their citizens. By bringing citizens together through the county’s aggregation program the residents of the unincorporated areas of the county will be able to gain buying power and, thereby, be able to negotiate a better price for their electric and natural gas than each household would be able to individually.

Under Ohio law, the aggregation program must be placed on the ballot and passed by a majority of voters before it can be established. Once passed, all eligible residents and small businesses (who use less than 700,000 kilowatt hours of electricity or 500 MCF of natural gas) will be enrolled and begin receiving the discounted energy prices under the program.

Residents do not need to do anything to join the program. However, anyone who does not want to participate in the program can opt out in the beginning or at any other time simply by returning a form that will be mailed to all eligible members. There are no fees or cost for leaving the program at any time.

Residents in the program will still receive bills from AEP, Ohio Edison, Dominion East Ohio, and Columbia Gas of Ohio and will not receive a separate bill from their electric or natural gas supplier. After the program has been approved by the voters, the commissioners will hold two public hearings to explain the program and answer any questions. When the contract has been reviewed and signed, the supplier who won the contract will send an opt-out letter to all eligible citizens.

An aggregation program will not only provide the citizens of Knox County with savings on their utility costs, but also peace of mind. Many citizens receive phone calls from suppliers or are visited at their door by salespeople looking to sign them up for different programs. Often the terms of the these programs are long, technical, and confusing in nature, and without careful review, residents can be led into a program that starts out with a very low rate that balloons into a much higher rate after a few months, costing the individual much more than originally thought. These individuals do not know to call the supplier when the program is up and are unknowingly auto-renewed at a rate much higher than what their previous program was.

If approved by the voters, the Knox County Commissioners are committed to providing electric and natural gas aggregation programs that offer significant savings below the “Price to Compare” for electricity and “Apples to Apples” for natural gas, at a fixed price, and with no hidden cost increases built in.

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