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Lambertville could decide who provides JCP&L with electricity for city residents

By: Renée Kiriluk-Hill |

The city plans to seek a consultant who can help it choose who will supply electricity for most of its residents and businesses, Mayor David DelVecchio said yesterday, estimating that the change could save each household $150 to $200 yearly on their electric bills.

Lambertville could become the first municipality in Hunterdon, and one of the first in New Jersey, to take this step.

DelVecchio is also inviting officials from neighboring West Amwell and Delaware townships to join the process on behalf of their residents.

About 15 people attended a meeting in Lambertville last night to learn more about community or municipal aggregation. He listened to questions and said that the general consensus by evening’s end was, “Why wouldn’t we do this?”

DelVecchio said, “I think this is a very exciting concept! We’re going to use the purchasing power of our municipality to get the best deal for our residents, a better deal than they can get going out by themselves.”

He said that the city will also “figure out if we can put a green component in it for those who want that.”

The cost to the municipality will be advertising the public process, said the mayor. The consultant’s fee, he added, will be paid by the company that is awarded the contract for municipal aggregation.

The mayor said that a consultant would help draft bid specifications and the ordinance enabling the aggregation and would help analyze the bids and make a recommendation.

This person is needed, he said, because “only one town has done this,” meaning municipal aggregation, so far in New Jersey.

Under “community” or “municipal aggregation,” Jersey Central Power & Light would continue to deliver the electricity, but someone else could be the supplier. Companies routinely solicit customers today to do that, and some residents and businesses have already switched as an individual account.

Either way, JCP&L still maintains the infrastructure, and remains the contact in the event of an outage. This service represents about 35% of a customer’s bill, said DelVecchio.

What can change is who provides the electricity to the electric utility and how the usage rate, based on kilowatt hours, is decided.

In New Jersey, residents whose energy is generated by their suppliers — JCP&L in Lambertville — are automatically switched to the company awarded a municipal contract, but they may opt out of the program.

It’s done that way to encourage companies to offer their lowest bids, leveraging the power of bulk purchasing.

On the other hand, businesses must opt-in to get the municipal rate. Contracts in New Jersey may only be awarded for rates lower than that of the electric utility.

In communities where this program is in place, DelVecchio said, residents save an average of $150 to $200 yearly on electric bills.