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BLOOMINGTON — The city of Bloomington will accept $100,000 a year less from its electricity provider in exchange for more investment in renewable energy sources.

Residents and businesses won't see any additional cost because the added expense is coming from the "civic contribution" Homefield Energy pays to the city as part of the electricity aggregation contract, City Manager David Hales said.

The aggregation program allows municipalities to bundle Ameren customers’ electricity needs to attract the lowest-bidding supplier. Customers may opt out if they wish, but otherwise they are automatically enrolled.

In March, the city entered into a three-year contract with Homefield that called for 10 percent of the electricity to come from renewable energy sources, the minimum required under state law for municipalities participating in electrical aggregation.

"The council wanted to go back and pursue the 100 percent renewable level," Hales said.

The City Council voted 7-1 Monday to modify the agreement to seek the equivalent of having 100 percent of the city's power coming from renewable sources.  

Homefield achieves the 100 percent-renewable designation by purchasing renewable-energy credits on the city's behalf from companies that generate energy through renewable sources such as wind, water and solar technology.

The city previously received a civic contribution of about $140,000 per year from Homefield. The cost of the 100 percent renewable-energy designation will be offset by lowering the contribution to about $40,000.

"It still leaves enough money to continue our energy efficiency program that we contract with the Ecology Action Center," Hales said.

More than a dozen people affiliated with the Illinois People's Action attended the meeting and urged the council to support the measure by holding up signs that read, "Bloomington supports renewable energy."

Ward 1 Alderman Kevin Lower cast the lone dissenting vote when the council took action. He said the cost to the city was too high, and residents who are interested in 100 percent-renewable energy sources can opt out of the aggregation and buy power from such sources on the open market.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @pg_nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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