Carbon County is preparing for an electric auction.

During the county commissioners' meeting, the board announced that the tentative date for an online reverse auction to hopefully purchase lower electric rates for the county-owned buildings, has been set. The tentative date is Jan. 12.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said officials hoped to hold the auction before the new year, but since that isn't going to happen, the county will be purchasing its electricity through PPL Electric through Feb. 1, 2010.

The move the county is making is due to deregulation and electric rate hikes that will take effect on Jan. 1.

Currently, the county pays between 8 and 11 cents for a kilowatt hour of electricity through PPL. As of Jan. 1, O'Gurek said rates could be anywhere between 10.4 and 14 cents a kilowatt hour.

With the auction, the county is hoping to get a rate that would keep the electric bill the same or lower.

Right now, Carbon is paying $700,000 annually for electricity to all of its county-owned properties. It uses a total of 3.5 million kilowatt hours a year.

O'Gurek said the county is in the process of getting all necessary information out to prospective bidders.

He added that when the auction takes place, bidders will have different options to bid on. They include an 11-month period, from February to Dec. 31; a two-year period or 23 months, and a three-year period or 35 months. Companies must also generate a portion of their electricity through green energy.

"We're committed to purchasing from a company that is going to generate a minimum of 10 percent green energy," O'Gurek said.

Last week, the county authorized Jason R. Ulshafer of GreenPointe.Energy of Berwyn, to execute a contract with World Energy Solutions Inc. on behalf of Carbon County for the procurement of electrical power at the best price available.