NORMAL — Residents of Normal will have a second chance to vote on an option supporters say will save them money on their electric bills.
The City Council on Monday approved putting an electric aggregation question on the November ballot. The measure failed in Normal and Bloomington in March.
“The beauty of this is everybody gets choices,” said Councilwoman Cheryl Gaines. “If you don’t want in, you opt out. For those of us who want to save money, we can stay in and pay less for electricity.”
Councilman Chuck Scott said the idea of several communities joining together to bundle their electric needs and get a better price is one used at Illinois State University, where he works as executive director of facilities management.
“It can save significant money,” he said. “It has for the university in the past.”
Councilman Jeff Fritzen believes the measure failed last time for a number of reasons including confusion about the issue and not understanding the ballot question.
Fritzen said this time around it’s important that the town and the company hired to negotiate with an electric supplier do a better job of informing the public.
City Manager Mark Peterson said there are a couple of grassroots groups that have expressed interest in marketing the proposal. The town’s role is only providing information.
Scott noted that about 50 or 60 communities passed the measure in March and, depending on the final votes in November, 100 could make up the second round, meaning more to negotiate a price.
Councilwoman Sonja Reece said if the measure passes and a resident didn’t opt out immediately there would be another chance.
“It’s a small fee to get out but that offsets the advantage they’ve already received,” she said.
According to Charles de Casteja, managing partner of Good Energy, the consulting company hired by the town, communities including Peoria and Champaign approved the measure in March and now have rates of 4 cents per kilowatt hour. In June, Ameren was charging 6 cents per kilowatt hour; the summer rate is 5 cents.
While all Normal residents may vote on the issue, the aggregation program applies only to investor-owned utilities (Ameren in Normal) and not co-ops like Corn Belt Energy Corp.