After listening to an alarming prediction of electric price volatility within the next few years, Hagerstown Town Council decided to try to save money for unforeseen expenses.

The council met in two work sessions on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21. At the second meeting, council president pro tem Brian Longbons said he and Town Manager Chris LaMar had met with a representative of the company that sells the town electricity.

He had told them it’s likely that there will be a shortage of electrical power starting in 2025-26.

This is because generating plants powered by fossil fuels such as coal are being taken out of production faster than they are being replaced and sources such as solar and wind are not nearly as dependable, according to Longbons’ report.

LaMar said the town’s contract with AEP (American Electric Power) for energy price is good through 2029.

But the town also pays variable rates for capacity – the amount of power available on the regional power grid – and for transmission charges – the cost for sending the power over wires to town from the generating plants. As the amount of power decreases, the cost is likely to spike unpredictably.

AEP said Hagerstown could “hedge” against possible fluctuations by having the town pay extra to the utility, which would hold on to the funds until needed. Council members instructed LaMar to tell AEP the town is not interested in that plan.

They asked Clerk-Treasurer Julie Neal to see if revenue from the electric utility can be put into a town-held fund to save for price increases.

During the same meeting, the council decided to change town attorneys, hiring DeFur Voran of Fishers through its New Castle office. The town had contracted for legal services with a Richmond firm for several years. Council members expressed a need to have an attorney in attendance at more meetings.

Council President Becky Diercks reported that during the Dec. 14 meeting, the council talked about ways to encourage affordable housing to be built in town, the town’s contribution to the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County and discussed applying for a grant to pay for an evaluation of the water, wastewater and stormwater system.

This month’s meeting was on Tuesday, Jan. 2, because of the New Year holiday.

Regular council meetings are at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday each month at Town Hall, 49 E. College St. The public may attend.

Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the January 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.