At a recent community festival in Northeast, Ohio, NOPEC (Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council) was at the top of the list of sponsors, which donated funds to make the one-day festival feasible.
Electricity was hooked up in the community’s local park to provide amplifiers for bands, lights for tents and power for vendors to keep their pretzels and other goodies warm.
In 242 communities across 19 counties in Ohio, NOPEC is there even though you may be unaware. As Ohio’s largest governmental energy aggregator, the nonprofit energy supplier purchases gas and electricity in bulk to help lower utility bills.
If your community is a NOPEC member, you may already be enrolled. All eligible residential and small business accounts with a NOPEC member community are automatically enrolled in NOPEC’s natural gas and/or electrical aggregation program. Unless you chose to opt out, you are receiving exclusive utility rates negotiated specifically for NOPEC customers.
Since 2001, NOPEC has saved Ohio consumers hundreds of millions of dollars on their energy costs. It has also awarded over $40 million in NOPEC community energy efficiency grants, which are used to achieve greater energy efficiency and/or expand energy infrastructure.
“Community leaders know about us, but most residents do not,” Dave Jankowski, NOPEC’s chief marketing and communications officer says. “We provide grants to communities based on their average enrollment for one year. We give $1 in grants per account enrolled. We provide dollars for capital improvements that often communities struggle to find.”
Take, for example, the city of Lakewood. According to Jankowski, Lakewood has used $542,263 in NOPEC grants over four years toward its streetlight upgrade project. To date, Lakewood has converted 72% of its streetlights to energy-efficient LED technology, which has reduced street light energy consumption by 14%.
Other projects, which may be funded by NOPEC grant dollars include electrical upgrades, energy-efficient windows and air conditioners, generators, insulation, solar-power LED stop signs and traffic signal upgrades.
“We are member-driven, and we are made up of the communities we do business in,” Jankowski says. “Every community in NOPEC has a seat at the table, and they help to legislate us. We like to give our members the credit.”
Along with grants for energy-related community projects, NOPEC offers small business loans. A Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan is for commercial property owners who are looking to complete a $100,000 to $500,000 energy efficiency or renewable energy project. By placing assessment on the real property, PACE will extend financing anywhere from five to 20 years with interest rates as low at 2.5%.
“This is a great economic-development tool that we make available to our small businesses,” Jankowski says. “When businesses find out about it, they want to get involved. The initial investment can lead to large savings over time on energy bills.”
Jankowski says he is pleased to work for a company that brings a peace of mind to its customers by negotiating lower energy rates, advocating for consumer-friendly legislation, educating residents on ways to conserve energy and providing a safe alternative from predatory for-profit retail suppliers.
“We pride ourselves in taking the seasonal peaks and valleys out of energy costs,” Jankowski says. “We are the safe choice. We watch the market so you don’t have to play the game.”