TAWC eyes lowering its nat. gas bill

A new natural gas deal could save the Transit Authority of Warren County thousands of dollars per year.

TAWC Director John Aldrich brought a request to the board at last Thursday afternoon meeting that the authority contract with Open Flow Energy.

According to documentation provided at the meeting, Open Flow Energy “has the buying power to get long-term supply at reasonable pricing. When you choose Open Flow Energy as your supplier, which means we purchase the natural gas for your business.”

“I would like to enter into an agreement with them,” Aldrich said.Aldrich explained that Open Flow provides two purchasing options. One is a fixed price while the other is tied to market conditions.

Aldrich provided an example to the board outlining the potential savings. In January, the authority’s National Fuel bill was $1,671.82. Under the fixed price through Open Flow, documentation indicated that cost would have been reduced by $367.33 and under the market pricing would have been reduced by $561.15 at $1,110.68.

Aldrich said that he asked company representatives whether they have any other local customers and was told that the Peppermill Restaurant, Whirley and United Refining have converted to this provider.

“We project a savings of around $3,000 to $4,000 per year on our gas price,” Aldrich added, indicating that he would like to see the authority accept the market pricing option. “If the market price goes out of whack and the fixed price is a better price, (a representative from Open Flow will) come to us and let us switch.”

Aldrich said the authority has boilers that utilize natural gas. Board chairman Tom Hessley said the boilers are used to heat the snow melt and also add additional heat to the heat pumps.

Board member Cindy Jarzab asked if the geothermal system at the authority building produces most of the heat, why there is a need to supplement with natural gas. “Geothermal comes out at 54 degrees,” Alrdich said, noting that it must be heated further from there for various uses.

The board unanimously agreed to enter into a one-year agreement with Open Flow Energy.