In 2009, Illinois government passed a law that would allow municipalities to put electricity supplying out for bids to find a competitive rate, so long as the residents were in favor of doing so through a referendum vote.
On Tuesday, the following question will appear on the March 2012 Primary ballot for Woodridge residents.
“Shall the have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?"
With that in mind, here are questions and answers brought up during a session about electricity aggregation with a representative from the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative.
Do electricity suppliers actually manage electricity going to my home and businesses in the area?
No. Suppliers provide the energy source and manage that end. A distributor is who is in charge of the actual electricity getting to a home or business. ComEd will remain the distributor.
So who has to fix downed lines and other outages?
ComEd. They are still in charge of residents and businesses receiving power, and will still be paid a portion of residents’ and businesses’ power bills for that service.
How many votes will it take to pass this referendum?
A straight majority, so if 100 people vote and 51 choose “yes” it passes.
What would happen next if it passes?
Following Tuesday’s vote, there would be two public hearings held by the city to get feedback from residents on what they would like in a supplier contract. Notices for bids are released. Then NIMEC would analyze bids received and work to negotiate the lowest available rate for electricity supplying. After that, residents will receive notices about opting out of the energy supply plan if they so choose, before the plan takes effect.
Who is paying NIMEC for their services?
Similar to a real estate broker, NIMEC is paid a percentage from the contracted amount from the supplier established by the deal with the city. Darien doesn’t pay NIMEC.
How much are we going to save if we do this?
That will depend on the deal made with a supplier. As a comparison, New Lenox decided last year to find a new supplier, and got a rate of 5.89 cents per kilowatt-hour. The rate was estimated at leading to an .
According to NIMEC, people in municipalities who opted to get a new supplier saved an average last year of 23 - 30 percent on their bills.
Do I have to do this?
No. Even if the referendum passes, residents will have the option to stick with ComEd or find their own supplier. And if residents decide later that they’d rather be a part of the aggregated supplying, they can enroll then.
What do you mean by ‘aggregated?’
By going out to bid for the energy supply of as many residences and small businesses as possible, the city has a chance to purchase a cheaper rate. ComEd charges a rate set by the Illinois Power Agency. Here are a few examples of rates offered by other energy suppliers.
What happens if ComEd still offers the best deal?
The city can choose to stay with ComEd.
If I have a budget program with ComEd, will the new supplier also be able to accommodate such a plan?
Yes. Any contracts with the new supplier will have to include options such as this, as well as rates for seniors.