The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

February 13, 2013

County questions electric program representative

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Vermilion County Board members questioned an Integrys Energy Services representative Wednesday about the county’s electrical aggregation program.

Joe Bullivant, program manager for Illinois Aggregation for Integrys, fielded a number of questions from board members about the confusion that has arisen with the aggregation program. The program allows Integrys to buy electricity in bulk at a lower rate and pass part of those savings on to residents in non-incorporated areas of the county.

District 3 board member Rick Knight said residents were confused after receiving differing letters in the mail from Integrys regarding their programs.

Bullivant acknowledged that Integrys has had some “overlap issues” regarding letters sent out to residents about its programs, but said the company has a plan to make sure residents who did not receive the appropriate information can still opt out of the aggregation program.

“We’ll absolutely let them out of the program,” he said, added he believed the issues involved only a small percentage of residents.

The county’s electrical aggregation program has undergone changes since first passed in the November election. The program was originally intended to cover the entire county until Illinois Power Authority issued a decision saying the referendum could only cover the county’s unincorporated areas.

“We got thrown a curve, is what is amounts to, by the Illinois Power Authority,” said Gary Weinard, county board chairman.

Incorporated communities in the county will have the same question regarding the electrical aggregation program on their April municipal ballots, but several communities have chosen to go with a company other than Integrys.

To compensate for the restriction, Integrys extended its opt-in program — which was created last summer — to residents in incorporated areas of the county.

According to Bullivant, the opt-out program has 4,350 residents and small businesses participating, resulting in $13,000 in revenue for the county. By June 2014, he said the county will have received $245,000 as its share of the program.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting:

The project focuses on brickwork and caulking on the three sides of the original PSB, including the east side of the building where bricks have expanded more over the years than expected as a result of heat.

The money will come from the $100,000 the county gives the Public Building Commission each year for capital improvements.

Vermilion County Highway Engineer Doug Staske said the remaining funds will be used for drainage and ditch work along the road connecting Catlin and Illinois Route 1.