The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 17, 2012

Voters to decide on electricity plan

DANVILLE — Voters will decide in November if they want to be part of a new electrical aggregation program in Vermilion County.

County board members voted on Tuesday to approve putting a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether to initiate an electrical aggregation program in Vermilion County.

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.

Integrys Energy Services Vice President Ron Cardwell and sales manager Bob Hedrich answered questions before the board Tuesday night prior to the vote.

Cardwell, speaking afterward, said the plan “lowers electric rates through group buying.” He indicated the plan allows between 20 to 30 percent to be shaved off the actual cost of electricity.

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.

With Tuesday’s approval by the county board, Cardwell said Integrys would handle getting the word out to residents about the referendum through mailings as well as community meetings, helping residents to make an “informed decision.”

Integrys already is established in the county, with agreements already set up with agencies such as the Public Safety Building Commission and the Danville Sanitary District as well as businesses such as Carle Clinic and Provena United Samaritans Medical Center.

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 plan, if approved by voters, would only be available to Ameren customers. Cardwell said co-op customers cannot take part. In addition, residents who do not want to participate can opt out of the program.

Although the referendum is on the ballot, the county is not required to establish the electrical aggregation program. Cardwell told board members if the county is unsatisfied with the savings, it can put off initiating the program or not go through with it at all.

Also at Tuesday’s county board meeting:

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