Program could save on electric bills

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners Thursday heard a presentation about putting a countywide electric aggregation program on the ballot, which could result in residents saving about $150 a year on their electric bills.

Scott Belcastro of Trebel, an energy broker company, asked the commissioners about agreeing to form an electric aggregation program in the county.

Under the electric aggregation program, voters first choose to participate in the program. Belcastro said there have been 322 electric aggregation communities in Ohio that have had the issue on the ballot, with an 88 percent approving the measure.

Belcastro said Ohio electric customers are being contacted by electric suppliers about purchasing electricity. He said residents are complaining about not knowing what to do concerning choosing an electric provider.

Under the deregulation program, AEP will continue to maintain the electric transmission system but customers can purchase electric service from any provider.

Belcastro said the county can negotiate a lower rate because of the number of residents.

Mingo Junction residents are voting in the May 7 primary election about establishing an electric aggregation program there. Toronto and Stratton already have approved such programs.

Belcastro said his company will assist the county in a campaign to get the countywide program approved.

Commissioners took no action but did ask Belcastro to provide additional information.

Belcastro said he would like the issue to be on the November general election ballot.

Commissioners also were presented a letter that will be mailed to residents in the Crestview-Belvedere areas about the tap-in fees for the new sewage system.

The residents can pay the entire $6,500 tap-in fee or pay $26.54 a month on their sewer bills over a 30-year period. The monthly fee includes an $18.05 charge for the tap, plus $8.49 for interest.

Commissioners also approved a resolution authorizing the county prosecutor’s office to seek injunctions against 22 property owners in Pottery Addition who have not connected their properties to the county’s new sewer line.

Commissioners also agreed to add $500,000 for the extension of the runway at the county airport to a bond issuance the county is finalizing for the purchase of the Towers building and the new roof at the county Job and Family Services Department. The commissioners agreed to finance a $1 million bond for the purchase of the Towers and the new roof.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Development each have contributed a $750,000 grant, with the county kicking in $500,000, to expand the runway.

Commissioners have a signed purchase agreement with Tower Realty to buy the building for $750,000, plus $100,000 for four adjacent parking lots.

Commissioners also agreed to finance the project through JPMorgan Chase Bank at 2.8 percent interest over a 10-year period.

Mike Warren of the county auditor’s office said the bank has agreed to allow the additional $500,000 to be placed on the bond.

County Commissioner Tom Gentile said the runway project is near being ready for bids.

The runway will be expanded from 4,400 feet to 6,000 feet long and from 60 feet wide to 75 feet to allow for larger corporate jets to land.

Commissioners agreed to lease the runway at Friendship Park to Timothy E. Galloway of East Liverpool to be used for drag racing. The annual lease for six months is for $575 a month.

Commissioners also heard from Salem Township Trustee Terry Bell about proposed changes in the truck laws in Ohio. Bell said there is a push to increase the maximum allowable truck weight from 80,000 pounds to 97,000 pounds. That measure failed in the Ohio Senate, Bell said. But there is a proposed change in how local communities handle heavy truck permits. He noted local communities can’t deny a hauling permit unless new studies are done on the condition of bridges and roads, such as core samples on roads. He added it will be expensive for the county and said the Ohio Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $45 million to do another study on bridges on state roads.

Commissioners also approved resolutions naming May as Mental Health Awareness Month and Foster Parent Recognition Month.