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COUNCIL EXPECTED TO OK BALLOT ISSUE ON ELECTRIC POWER

City council is expected to act to put a question before voters in November asking whether they want the city to buy electrical power for all residents as a group.

Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the issue and several amendments to the city's charter.

Buying as a group, or aggregate, is a move intended to lower electric bills for residents in the wake of deregulation.

The plan was proposed by Councilman Pete Gerken, who said he expects to have enough votes on council to place the issue on the ballot in November.

"I believe that enough of my colleagues see this as an important issue and I expect it to be supported in a majority fashion, maybe not unanimously, but by a majority," he said.

Council must approve the plan, which allows the city to choose from competing utility providers, before it can be placed on the ballot. That approval must happen by Thursday in order to make the Lucas County board of elections' deadline for putting the issue on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Oregon, Sylvania, Northwood, and Maumee, have similar issues on the ballot.

Mr. Gerken is proposing a plan in which every electric customer in the city would automatically become a member of the buying group. Customers who don't want to be in the group would need to ask to be let out of it.

When deregulation takes effect Jan. 1, customers will be able to choose which electric marketer they buy their power from. Toledo Edison will still transmit and distribute electricity, but it will no longer have a monopoly on generating power.

The idea behind cities aggregating is that large groups can typically buy at cheaper rates.
State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) is sponsoring a public forum on the electrical restructuring issue on Sept. 18.

He said he is planning the event because so many communities have chosen to put the issue before voters and he wants to help them make informed choices.

Those expected to speak at the forum are Alan Schriber, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; Rob Tongren, of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, and Kurt Waltzer, clean air program manager for the Ohio Environmental Council.

"There was a lot of misinformation and we needed to bring in the heads of each of these groups to provide governmental officials and administrators, and the public, with the information they are going to need to make the proper choices," Mr. Olman said. "That's what this is about, customer choice."

He said the location of the meeting is being determined. It may be at the University of Toledo.
Toledo Councilwoman Betty Shultz, who has had strong concerns about the city becoming an opt-out aggregator, encouraged residents to attend the meeting.

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