Residents Will Vote on Whether to Seek Cheaper Electricity

Referendum authorizing the village to take part in electric aggregation plan will be on March 20, 2012 primary ballot.

When you head to the polls next primary season, you won’t just be casting a ballot to pick your party’s candidates. You can also vote to move one step closer to lowering your electric bill.

On Wednesday, trustees voted to place a referendum on the March 20, 2012 primary ballot asking voters for the authority to seek bids from power providers other than ComEd in the interest of locking in lower rates for residential and non-industrial customers.

Romeoville is one of more than a dozen members of the Will County Governmental League looking into electric aggregation, which means combining the electrical loads of each community, with the league acting as a broker to try to secure the best rate for residents.

Hugh O’Hara, transportation director for the Will County Governmental League, said the league would consider bids from any of the 23 alternate electricity suppliers in Illinois.

Before than can happen, voters in member communities will have to sign off on the referendum, O’Hara added. Towns will also have to host two public hearings on the issue, and even after a contract is awarded to a supplier, residents would still be able to opt out and retain ComEd as their supplier.

“It gives the decision ultimately to the residents,” Mayor John Noak said. “All this does is give them another option.”

Trustee Ken Griffin was clear about one thing. Even though ComEd won’t be supplying the power, the electricity giant will still be delivering it — which means a contract with a new supplier won’t necessarily solve problems for customers who’ve had power outage problems in the past.

“It doesn’t mean those problems will go away,” Griffin said.

While customers would see a lower rate on the supply side of their bills, ComEd would continue to deliver the power to homes and small businesses.

“ComEd still delivers the power,” O’Hara said. “ComEd still sends the bill.”

But the supply side of the bill, which accounts for 60 to 70 percent of the total, according to O’Hara, could be considerably lower.

“The savings are pretty significant,” he said.

In fact, New Lenox and Crest Hill recently teamed up to aggregate their electric loads, securing what officials said will be a 25 percent savings for customers.

So far, O’Hara said, 18 communities have signed on to be part of the aggregation plan, with Romeoville being the first to get on board. He estimated there are more than 450,000 people and 157,000 households in the member communities.

Although the referendum will go to the voters in March, the savings will take a bit longer to materialize.

“The earliest that you would see those savings is probably September [2012],” O’Hara said.


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