BLOOMINGTON — Good Energy, the consulting firm that has coordinated electric aggregation education efforts for about 100 municipalities including Normal, will do the same for McLean County.
But the contract did not receive unanimous support from the County Board, which voted after nearly two hours of discussion.
Members George Wendt and Chuck Erickson questioned signing a contract before the April 9 vote in the county. “By approving this, we’re endorsing the plan,” said Wendt. “We should stay neutral.”
Erickson agreed and also questioned whether the state statute gave the board the legal right to enter into the contract, noting a phrase in the proposal that the company would “conduct public hearings and adopt a plan of operating and governance” as required by the act.
Administrator Bill Wasson said those hearings and adoption of the plan are to occur after the vote, if the referendum passes. The board previously voted to put the question on the ballot.
Electric aggregation allows municipalities and counties to join together and seek an electrical supplier for residents. The idea is that bulk buying will attract better rates. The McLean County referendum will affect only those residents in unincorporated McLean County and served by Ameren.
Erickson suggested the proposed contract be returned to the Executive Committee and suggested it not be considered until after April 9.
But Jerod McMorris, an energy consultant with Good Energy, said waiting that long would not allow McLean County residents to reap the benefits of lower rates if voters support the question.
McMorris said that besides educating the public, Good Energy also would determine who is eligible for electric aggregation. That list needs to be ready, he said, so the process can start soon after the vote.
Good Energy, which represents many communities, plans to seek bids in mid-May, he said.
Member Scott Black suggested the board postpone the proposed contract until March. Member Ben Owens suggested it be postponed until after the election.
Members voted 12-6 against referring the issue to the Executive Committee until May and 14-4 against postponing it to March.
The contract with Good Energy won the support of 14 members. Voting against were Erickson, Owens, Wendt and Susan Schafer. Member Don Cavallini was absent.
Wendt was concerned that Good Energy only sought “green” sources of energy. “How will that affect our coal burning plants?” he asked.
McMorris said the county would determine what percentage — if any — it wanted from renewable sources.