Morristown to explore re-selling electricity and natural gas to residents

Morristown has found an environmentally friendly way to shave its municipal electric bills. Now, the town government will try to do the same for residents.

On Tuesday, Mayor Tim Dougherty directed town Sustainability Coordinator Paul Miller to study how Morristown can re-sell electricity–and maybe natural gas–to consumers at a discount.

“That’s a Christmas present!” the Mayor said, after Paul explained to the town council that an online auction had landed an energy deal that may trim about $65,000 from the municipal electric bill over the next year.

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and town Sustainability Coordinator Paul Miller are all smiles after sealing a green energy deal to save taxpayers $250,000 over the next two years. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty and town Sustainability Coordinator Paul Miller, pictured in 2012. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

And 75 percent of that energy will come from renewable sources, not fossil fuels, Paul said.

That’s up from 50 percent in the prior contract, and far exceeds a state mandate that will require all towns to derive at least 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.

An auction process similar to eBay resulted in two new electricity suppliers for Morristown. Direct Energy  will furnish energy for town buildings and parks, accounting for about 78 percent of the town’s total usage.  The rest–mostly for street lighting–will come from Liberty Power. 

Jersey Central Power & Light still runs and maintains the grid that actually delivers the electricity. But the winning bidders are able to charge less per kilowatt hour, Paul said.

“If we as a municipality are saving almost $70,000 on our electric bill, why can’t we as a municipality purchase [electricity] and give it to citizens?” the Mayor asked. Then he told Paul: “Look at natural gas, too.”

Several towns in New Jersey are considering this type of arrangement, Paul said.

Almost two years ago, Morristown participated in its first “reverse auction,” which resulted in a contract with Reliant Energy Northeast LLC of Houston.




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