By Jaimie Julia Winters
Montclair took the next step in joining a government energy aggregation on June 12. The council voted 5 to 2 in favor of the move.
Energy aggregation is when a town or a group of towns go out to bid for its residents as a whole in order to get lower rates and cleaner energy.
The Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act was passed in 1999, deregulating the energy market, and was intended to bring energy choice to New Jersey ratepayers.
Instead of PSE&G giving all customers the same default rate and energy source, the energy deregulation encourages competition by giving customers a choice when it comes to who supplies their natural gas and electricity.
Currently, Montclair households can pick their own energy suppliers and many in town already do in order to get cleaner energy, but it’s usually at a higher rate. So, residents wanting to lower their carbon footprint by choosing wind, solar, hydro or landfill gas usually need the financial means to do so.
Instead of each Montclair household acting independently, town governments will act on behalf of its residents and approach selected energy providers to get bids. Maplewood, South Orange, Milburn, Glen Ridge, Verona and Montclair have joined forces to go out to bid for their nearly 53,000 households, making it one of the largest community energy aggregations in the state. All but Montclair had passed ordinances creating community energy aggregations before Montclair did so.
The group is looking for a five percent lower rate and to be at 40 percent renewable energy. Montclair is currently at 17 percent clean energy.
Councilman William Hurlock and Deputy Mayor Robin Schlager voted against the ordinance.
Gabel Associates is the consultant that will proceed with going out to bid for the energy aggregate.
Each town still has to pass a resolution to join the other towns to form the aggregation. Going out for bids could happen in late fall or early winter.