The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 14, 2012

County board to consider plans to buy electricity

DANVILLE — Vermilion County Board members will vote Tuesday on a resolution giving residents the choice of starting an electrical aggregation program.

The program would allow the county to combine the residents into a single buying group for electricity. The group — represented by Integrys Energy of Chicago — would then have increased buying power and, as a result, receive more competitive prices.

Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon described the potential program as a “win-win situation and no risk” for the county and for residents.

He pointed out the issue was recently approved in the March 20 primary election by voters in Champaign County.

“That made me look at what is best for our county,” he said.

Tuesday’s vote would not implement any agreement with Integrys, but rather give the county permission to put the proposal on the ballot for the November general elections.

McMahon said Integrys has worked with local factions, citing its representation as the purchase representative for the Public Building Commission for the last five years as well as the county.

The savings, he said, would be noticeable for each household. He cited figures indicating electricity could be purchased through the aggregation program for 5.1 cents compared to 6.6 cents directly from Ameren. The average savings per household could be as much as $23.

“The advantage is the county can negotiate a rate at the biggest savings we can with 36,000 households in it,” he said.

According to the Citizens Utility Board, five other states have communities that purchase their own power through such programs. Rhode Island and Ohio both estimate the aggregation program has saved more than $18 million per year.

The Illinois General Assembly approved legislation in 2010 that allowed local governments to aggregate the electric power purchasing of residents. More than 200 communities passed aggregation referendums in the March primary election.

McMahon said residents who do not want to participate in the program — if it passes in the November general election — would be able to opt out.

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