Electric aggregation question to return to Normal ballot

2012-08-20T21:41:00Z 2012-08-21T09:59:10Z Electric aggregation question to return to Normal ballot| By Mary Ann Ford pantagraph.com
August 20, 2012 9:41 pm  • 

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.

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(9) Comments

  1. ct
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    ct - August 23, 2012 1:26 am
    Because the rate bargaining process needs a specific load/consumption figure.

    An opt-in process would be like a 'chicken or the egg' dilemma: you can't offer people hard details on what to opt-in too unless the number of opt-ins is already known from which to bargain a lower rate.
  2. ct
    Report Abuse
    ct - August 22, 2012 2:18 am
    Actual he was correct.

    Every community that passed a similar resolution is paying FAR LESS for electricity, some even getting it from the exact same source: Ameren.
  3. calvin
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    calvin - August 21, 2012 6:25 pm
    Thanks, etg29, for the info and your perspective. It seems, however, that the forced opt-in is just a way of bloating the size of the load to ensure a better price for those who wish to participate. If it's such a great thing, why not let people opt in and see what the REAL load is?

    Also, if Ameren Is involved, I'm even less of a fan.
  4. Jeff Strange11
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    Jeff Strange11 - August 21, 2012 5:49 pm
    Isn't Ameren getting several new energy purchasing contracts in December that would offer cheaper rates? Also if you go to PluginIllinois you can choose from over Nine different energy suppliers offering rates cheaper than Ameren.

    As for Unelected City Managers I like Mark R Levin's quote "He is in his own mind, a savior of mankind, if only man will bend to his will. Such can be the addiction of power. It can be an irrationally egotistic and absurdly frivolous passion that engulfs even sensible people. In this, the mastermind suffers from a psychosis of sorts and endeavors to substitute his own ambitions for the individual ambitions of millions of people."
  5. Rosco
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    Rosco - August 21, 2012 1:23 pm
    pure bull. keep trying till it passes. i say vote every single person out and start new. Mayor and all
  6. etg29
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    etg29 - August 21, 2012 11:43 am
    In response to calvin:
    The reason there is a opt-out and not a opt-in is because of simple economics. in order to get better pricing you need to bundle all the load for the munciplality and then go out for bids for that load. the larger the load the better the price similar to buying in bulk at sams club. So if they made it a opt-in it would not make it as easy to calculate and there would be much less load to go into the bid thereby making it less worthwhile to go out for bid.

    Reasons why you should pass this:
    1. It is expected to lower the average customers bill by 10 dollars a month.
    2. All the municipalities that passed it had there load bundled together and it went out for bid. Homefield energy won the bid, homefield energy is the retail arm of ameren energy marketing, which is part of Ameren Energy Resources the same people who own the Duck Creek and Edwards power plants in Bartonville and Canton IL. More than likely Homefield Energy will win the bid, so you will be helping the local central IL economy by having the money you pay per KW/HR going to the local ameren powerplants.
  7. earlyriser54
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    earlyriser54 - August 21, 2012 7:53 am
    Normal residents, this move is Petersens exclusively. Remember what he said when you voted NO the last time around? He said Normal voters were"ill informed" and "incapalbe of seeing the big picture." I do hope Normal residents send a louc and clear message to Mr. Petersen and tell him once for all than NO means NO, and he needs to respect the voters decision.
  8. Alli
    Report Abuse
    Alli - August 21, 2012 7:48 am
    Telling me that I didn't vote "your way" because I didn't understand the question is not going to win me over. I did understand the question, better than you think. Furthermore Peterson said we, the public, were given erroneous information. Well none of that was cleared up in this article. Unless something changes, I will vote no again.
  9. calvin
    Report Abuse
    calvin - August 21, 2012 6:46 am
    Why not have people opt IN instead of making them opt out ... and then charging them a fee if they miss the initial opt-out opportunity? Makes it seem less sneaky that way ...
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