Electrical Aggregation in Worthington: how to not burn 20 million pounds of coal
On Monday, May 9th, City Council discussed (for the second time in recent weeks) the issue of electrical aggregation for Worthington’s residential households. The motivations behind considering this policy are both financial (to save each household on their electric bills) and environmental (to reduce our carbon footprint by offsetting carbon emissions through the use of Renewable Energy Certificates, aka, RECs). It should be noted as well that a no-cost opt-out feature will be a requirement in case any of our fellow citizens does not want to participate for any reason.
Following discussion, Council voted to direct staff to engage a consulting firm to 1) further educate Council and the public on this issue, and 2) if Council votes to proceed following the education/outreach effort, then to facilitate a ballot issue in the fall for the public to vote on whether to authorize the city to enter in to this type of agreement. I think electrical aggregation is a great idea for Worthington. Why?
- It will save each household money on its electric bill. How much? It depends on how much electricity your household uses, and the exact rate we obtain, but our goal is about $100 savings per household per year.
- We’ll significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. How much? If 2,500 Worthington households (out of a total of ≈ 5,000) participate, consuming a total of ≈ 25,000 mwh/year, we will offset greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3,984 automobiles or 20,356,045 pounds of burned coal. To repeat: that’s the equivalent of nearly 4,000 automobiles or 20 MILLION pounds of burned coal.* That’s a big deal.
- We will include in any program a no-cost opt-out provision so as to preserve the right of any resident who, for any reason, does not want to participate in this community program.
*These numbers are calculated here: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator . The equivalency calculations are explained here: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gases-equivalencies-calculator-calculations-and-references
Are other communities doing this? Yes! Community electric aggregation is widespread across Ohio. Here’s a map:
Lastly, are RECs the best or only way to move toward sustainability? No! Efficiency, changed consumption patters, direct generation, etc. are all vital factors. In sum, I see aggregation and RECs as a means of quickly achieving meaningful, big results, but not as an endpoint of our city’s efforts. An article from the Sustainability Roundtable, “Not all RECs are Created Equal,” speaks to these issues by exploring the rationale and actual effects of the various ways that businesses and municipalities can purchase clean energy production. Here’s an excerpt: “Given the inability to physically trace energy from clean sources once it enters the grid, RECs were created as a contractual mechanism to keep track of renewable energy production, not consumption, so that companies can claim rights to clean energy and promote the development of new renewable energy projects that would displace dirtier conventional energy production. A REC is created at the location and time at which one MWh is produced by a certified renewable energy source.”
That’s all for now… no doubt there will be future posts on this important topic.