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Village Hearing on Electric Aggregation Tonight

Small business owners and residents can give their input on a proposed WCGL electric aggregation plan.

Woodridge residents and small business owners are invited to a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to give their input on a proposed Will County Governmental League electric aggregation plan. The hearing will take place in the Werch Board Room.

Fifty-four percent of Woodridge voters approved a referendum in March to pursue electric aggregation in the village. 

decided to authorize the Will County Governmental League to act on its behalf. The WCGL will pursue a one-year switch for municipalities who submit a letter of intent and will handle much of the grunt work the state requires.

The plan includes how the WCGL will choose a supplier and how the opt-in/out-out process will unfold. A copy of the proposed plan is available for review at Village Hall from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or online.

A state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010,  their residents into one negotiating body with the goal of getting a bulk discount. ComEd currently supplies Woodridge’s electricity.

The benefits to switching are cost savings for residents and small businesses. The downside is a labor-intensive process for village staff and confusion for residents. Plus, benefits may only last until 2013, when Illinois’ contract with ComEd will expire.

Four of five village trustees Trustee David Pittinger was absent. 

In the opt-out program, all residents and small business owners would be automatically switched to a new energy provider unless they took action to be excluded.

Trustee Greg Abbott was the only village board member to vote against pursuing electricity aggregation, saying the uncertainty and confusion wouldn’t be worth the short-term savings.

The 15 Illinois municipalities that have pursued aggregation have seen an initial savings of $175 a year per household, according to Village Administrator Kathleen Rush. Small businesses could save about $500 to $600 a year, she said.

A recent effort by Oak Brook, Grayslake and Lincolnwood will save households about $235 a year, Rush said. 

The barriers to switching are the many steps for the village in accordance with the law, including passing a referendum, drafting an ordinance and plan of operation, holding two public hearings and otherwise educating the public.

There’s also the question of whether the short-term benefits would be worth the effort.

Once ComEd’s contract with Illinois expires in 2013, it is expected electricity costs will be reduced when the Illinois Power Authority goes out to bid for its next energy supplier.  

To recoup savings and reduce workload in the meantime, municipalities have at times teamed up with one another to share resources. Downers Grove had approached Woodridge with interest to do so, Rush said, and Bolingbrook and Willowbrook were other options.

Trustees Abbott, Joseph Kagann, Anne Banks and Mayor William F. Murphy voiced support of the WCGL approach. Kagann said it seemed to be the more “shovel-ready” of the two options and voiced concern whether starting from scratch with a partnering municipality would delay Woodridge’s ability to recoup savings.

Trustees Pamela Beavers and Gina Cunningham-Picek voiced support of working with another municipality for more flexibility and including green energy options. The WCGL plan includes no green energy options.  

Once the year passes, Woodridge will have the option to continue with the WCGL if the option is available or join another municipality. Kagann said he favored going with WCGL as Woodridge learned more about the process. The village could then work with another municipality after it became more comfortable, he said.

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