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New utility bidding plan could save Cincinnati residents hundreds on gas & electric bills

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CINCINNATI - The city of Cincinnati takes a big step on Monday, that city leaders hope will lower electric and gas bills for residents and small business owners.
       
It's a plan that enables the city to bid for the lowest cost energy providers.
   
Cincinnati City Council will hold the first of two public hearings on the utility "aggregation" plan, that could, potentially, save city residents several hundred dollars a year on utility bills.

Cincinnati Vice Mayor and Council member Roxanne Qualls has been a major proponent of the plan. She said, "It puts money directly back in the consumers' pocket by competition."

Qualls says that will happen when the city starts bidding for electricity and gas on behalf of residents and small businesses.

She said the idea is rather than everyone paying higher individual rates for electricity and gas, the city buys as one huge industrial group to get a lower overall rate.

Qualls adds, "It ranges, what we know is from the experience of places like Indian Hill, Colerain Township and Green Township, some customers can save up to $400 a year in lower rates. And some more, and some a little less, but the savings can be significant."

Cincinnati voters approved the utility aggregation plan at the polls last November.

Monday's public hearing will include information on how other Hamilton county communities are using this group buying concept and what they've learned so far.

Qualls said, "In essence what it does is gives people like you and me the access to the same low rates that large companies and large users have been getting for many, many years."

Council still has to work out what criteria it will use to evaluate various bids for electricity and gas service. It may look for providers that offer more environmentally friendly power sources.

There are options if you don't like the provider council selects. Qualls said, "If you happen to not like any of the providers and you want to continue to pay higher rates, what you can do is: opt out. You can continue to have your same provider if you choose to."

We'll find out more about this utility "aggregation" plan for Cincinnati, starting Monday night at 6:00 pm, during the first public hearing on the issue. We'll have that meeting covered for you, with updates here on wcpo.com and on 9 News.

You can go to the City Council budget and finance committee agenda page to find out more about Monday's public hearing.

Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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