After spending several weeks reviewing requests for proposals (RFPs) from seven energy providers as part of Cincinnati’s initiative to power homes using energy aggregation, a decision has been made — and it’s a green one. Cincinnati has selected First Energy Solutions (FES) as the city’s new electricity provider, which will make it the first major city in the U.S. to use a 100 percent “green” electricity supply.
The aggregation process works like this: All eligible individual customers “pool” their buying power to form a larger unit, which holds more leverage to negotiate lower prices on electricity. Cincinnati voters passed a ballot in November 2011 to approve the city's efforts to choose an energy aggregation provider.
The designation of FES's energy supply as "green" energy doesn't mean that residents will see windmills and solar panels popping up across the city's landscape; rather, the energy will be designated "green" based on non-tangible renewable energy credits (RECs), which each represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity has been sourced from a "renewable" energy resource. FES will provide the city with enough RECs to power all interested consumers' homes, meaning no home opted-in to the aggregation power will use electricity sourced from non-renewable resources such as coal. The city's possession of those RECs will represent the commitment to sourcing electricity in residents' homes from renewable, green resources.
Some of the RECs provided to the city by FES will reportedly be sourced from local energy sources, including the University of Cincinnati's generating facility and the Cincinnati Zoo's Solar Canopy Project, although those sources will be a small component of the overall REC collection, according to Larry Falkin, Director for the Office of Environmental Quality.
“Not only will we be able to put real money back in people’s pockets, but this establishes the city as a leader in supporting green energy choices,” said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, who spearheaded the push to provide consumers with an energy aggregation option nearly two years ago.
Over the next several weeks, Cincinnati will work to negotiate a contact with FES, and residents will receive information about FES’s services.
Residents who aren't interested in participating in the city's green aggregation efforts will be required to opt-out before the services are implemented. FES will notify all eligible customers and those who don't want to participate must reply to be opted out. There will be no cost to enroll in the FES program.
According to the city’s press release, FES will save the average household about $133 each year on electricity bills. The switch could become effective by June.