BAINBRIDGE — Talks of going green have sprung up throughout the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County as the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council is introducing a new initiative for cleaner electricity.

With increased interest in sustainability, NOPEC Chief Operating Officer Joyce Mihalik presented the Green Community Choice Program to the Bainbridge Trustees during their regular Aug. 23 meeting.

“We’ve had many communities ask us what more NOPEC can do to help them with their sustainability initiatives,” Ms. Mihalik said. “We’ve worked over the last year to develop another sort of pricing offering for residents and small businesses that would actually require a change through legislation on your behalf.”

Ms. Mihalik said NOPEC currently offers what they call their “program price.”

“When you become a community member, most of our residents and small businesses will be under the product price offering that we call basically the program price,” she said. “It doesn’t change very often. It changes somewhat seasonally, and it is backed by some portion of renewable energy content.” She said under this program, about 11 percent is renewable energy.

“We have communities that are interested throughout our footprint of ensuring that, as the default, their residents would be automatically enrolled into a 100-percent renewable energy program,” she added.

Ms. Mihalik said NOPEC “devised” a program to allow this as an option for communities.

“There’s more [talk] about climate change and the infrastructure bill and sort of this push to try to put together some sustainable measures to alleviate some of the problems around the [environment],” she said. As more attention shifts toward talk of sustainability, the price of sustainable energy increases, she explained.

By opting into this program, it gives communities the ability to offer sustainable energy to residents through NOPEC with the benefit of a regulated price. The additional cost of switching to a 100-percent renewable energy program as a default equals .425 cent per kilowatt hour, Ms. Mihalik said, estimated at about $3.70 per month for a residential bill.

NOPEC is offering the Green Community Choice Program following a comprehensive survey involving 400 participants. Ms. Mihalik said about 73 percent of NOPEC’s customers said they would be interested in renewable energy, “but only 20 percent said that they were willing to pay more.

“Out of that 20 percent, 76 percent of the respondents had said that they were willing to pay somewhere between $3 to $10 more per month,” she added. “As we tried to figure out what would work along with our supply chain partner NextEra [Energy Services Ohio] and what could potentially work for communities, we had decided that we would go out and we would offer this program.”

She said if Bainbridge, or any other eligible community, wishes to opt into this program, they would need to notify NOPEC by Dec. 31.

Anyone enrolled in NOPEC’s program price would automatically be enrolled in the renewable program, she said.

If Bainbridge were to pass legislation to implement this program, residents have the option to opt out.

“Now [residents] have options. They can call our 1-800 call center, [and] they could opt out. They can go onto our variable price, they could go onto a fixed term product. And so they still have choice,” Ms. Mihalik explained.

“You could do this,” she told the trustees. “I’m not telling you [that] you should do this. You can continue on as you are.”

If Bainbridge decides not to opt into the Green Community Choice Program, residents will still have the opportunity to opt in on an individual basis, Ms. Mihalik said.

NOPEC has three-year terms with the current one ending in 2022, she said. So if Bainbridge or individual residents opt into this renewable program, it wouldn’t begin until 2023 and it would continue until 2026.

NOPEC Relationship Manager Jeff Heinrich told the trustees that he would be returning sometime this month to discuss an opt-in program for gas energy.

The trustees did not adopt a resolution for the renewable program, opting to consider it at a later date. The next regular trustees meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Bainbridge Township Town Hall, 17826 Chillicothe Road.

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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