Chamber hopes to help members lower utility bills

By MARK DUBOVEC  – ThisWeek Community News
The Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce is looking to help its members lower their utility bills.The chamber has partnered with Affordable Gas & Electric, an Illinois-based utility broker and consulting firm with a Dayton office, to offer chamber members the option to pool together to buy bulk bulk electricity and natural gas.

Shawn Conrad, executive director of the chamber, said interest in forming a buying group came from chamber members.

“(Members) should be able to see significant savings in their utility bills,” she said. “The bigger the pool, the bigger the savings.”

Affordable Gas & Electric currently coordinates similar programs for more than 15 other chambers of commerce, and according to information released by the chamber, it has saved those participants more than $1.8 million over the past year.

“Basically, it’s a buying group for chamber members,” said Rob Wielt, senior energy consultant for Affordable Gas & Electric. “We’re doing the shopping for the chamber members. … We’re honored (the Grove City Chamber) would allow us to coordinate the program.”

Chamber members who are in in the AEP Columbus Southern Power (electric) and Columbia of Ohio (gas) utility zones and whose current contracts expire by Oct. 31, have until May 2 to register for the first enrollment period.

Affordable Gas & Electric will take all the information to bid among suppliers, including Constellation, AEP Energy and DPLER.

“Whoever comes back with the lowest price will be the winning bidder,” Wielt said.

After a supplier is picked, members who signed up will receive contracts to sign that lock in rates.

“Then, that’s the point when they will make their commitment,” Conrad said.

Wielt said they are looking to lock in a lower rate for either a 24-month or a 36-month period, although that hasn’t been finalized.

“The longer-term deal would probably be best,” he said.

If all goes according to plan, enrolled members should start to receive discounted pricing in June.

“If this goes as well as we think it’s going to, we hope to add other chambers of commerce in Ohio and marry them together in one big pool,” Wielt said.

For more information, Wielt can be contacted at or 618-231-4904. Additional information, including how to sign up, is available on the chamber’s website,