Cleveland Heights to let natural gas aggregate pricing program expire

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — There are no plans at this point to renew the city’s gas aggregation contract, which is set to expire at the end of October.

This is due to the current price, provided through Constellation Energy, actually being higher than the regular market rate right now.

“We’re interested in a program that will allow us to take advantage of low pricing, rather than being locked into a higher rate,” City Manager Tanisha Briley told City Council on Oct. 16.

Councilman Michael Ungar noted that in recent years, “the city’s gas aggregation program has not worked” in terms of saving customers money.

He recommended that the city’s website provide a link to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO’s) site, and its “apples-to-apples” analysis of¬†natural gas rates.

“I want to continue to work with our city staff to try to get an aggregation program that makes sense and generates true savings,” Ungar said. “But this process will not be concluded before our current deal with Constellation expires.”

In the meantime, there will be nothing that replaces that program “as we continue to look to drive costs lower,” Briley said.

One of the possibilities for cost savings could be a regional collaboration, either through Cuyahoga County or a consortium with the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC).

In other business on Oct. 16, City Council approved the purchase of a new ambulance from Horton Emergency Services of Columbus that will also be used for fire response, Chief Dave Freeman said.

The cost is $256,000 with a 5 percent discount thrown in, good for about $12,000 off the regular price tag.

This was negotiated so that Horton, the ambulance maker can showcase the “much heavier duty”¬†vehicle at an Indiana expo in the spring, then turn the keys over to Cleveland Heights.

One of the city’s four ambulances will be retired, a 2005 model with 200,000 miles, Freeman said.

And at the request of Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg, council also plans to lodge an objection with the Ohio Department of Liquor Control for a license transfer to new ownership at the Heights Deli, 2879 Mayfield Road.

Mecklenburg cited 80 police calls for service to the Heights Deli since January 2015, the majority of those for “disturbances, disorderly conduct and suspicious activity,” with 16 follow-ups.

There have also been numerous code violations that have yet to be corrected as well, Mecklenburg said, adding that the prospective new owner also raises some concerns.

Council also approved resolutions to apply for the next round of Safe Routes to Schools funding through the Ohio Department of Transportation, as well as a joint project with University Heights on Washington Boulevard.

The work, most of it in University Heights, would include a water line and road resurfacing next summer, with Cleveland Heights putting up a $25,000 local share with the Ohio Public Works Commission.

City Parks and Recreation Director Joe McRae reported on the success of the third annual Happy 5K and 10K Road Race and 1-mile Fun Run on Oct. 8.

Roughly 600 people participated, raising $7,000 for the Cleveland Heights Youth Scholarship Fund, a new record.