by Wesley Ratcko

CHBA President Greg Welsh

Chestnut Hill Business Association president Greg Welsh presented the Chestnut Hill Community Association board meeting on Dec. 16 with information about an energy savings plan called CHEAP (Chestnut Hill Electric Alternative Program), that would offer a group rate for electricity to business members of the CHBA.

The program is in response to the statewide end of rate caps for power that many expect will result in higher rates electricity. Welsh said he had interviewed numerous companies until finding the best deal for the Avenue.

So, he said, starting January 1, the CHBA will engage a company called Glacial Energy to supply electricity for participating businesses. According to Welsh, participants in the program will enjoy the “lowest rate of all suppliers interviewed.”

In addition, Glacial will make a rebate to the CHBA based on the combined monthly kilowatt usage of all participating users. The greater the number of participating members, the higher the rebate amount. Welsh said this incentive could yield between $10,000 and $20,000 annually of “found money” for the Business Association.

The program with Glacial Energy, however, applies only to businesses. Welsh suggested that another provider – North American Power – could do the same for the CHCA if residents signed on. The rebate amount would “depend on the aggregate usage for everyone under their plan,” Welsh said.

In both instances, PECO would still handle the billing, maintain power lines, and provide emergency services. It would simply be a matter of reaching out to Chestnut Hill residents and convince them to sign up.

CHCA treasurer David Mansfield asked how something like this would be marketed. His concerns were echoed by board member Mark Keintz, who asked why residents would sign up.

“For the same reason the business association is doing it,” Welsh said. “To save money and to make a contribution to the community.”

CHCA president Walter Sullivan said the CHCA could develop materials with which to market the program that would provide residents all the information they need to make an informed decision.

“No secrets,” Sullivan said. “But we’ve got to promote it.”

Welsh provided some numbers to calculate the potential rebate amount to the CHCA, but added that the program would not be limited to residents of Chestnut Hill. As long as they’re in the service area, they would be able to select North American Power as their electricity provider and opt into the Chestnut Hill rebate program.

Residents could sign up, he said, by following a link from the association website.

“If we want people to sign up and get the residual benefit, we have to get them to our website,” Mansfield said.

Bob Rossman, vice president of operations, said he wasn’t sure there’d be any way to determine who decides to participate in the program.

“There’s no time window on this,” Welsh said, “but the longer you wait, the more people you’ll lose as they opt for their own providers.”

Board member Miguel Castaneda suggested that the issue is one of creating incentives for residents to join the program.

Rossman was asked to look into initiating a savings plan similar to CHEAP but intended for residents to benefit the CHCA.

The board took no other action.

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