It Passed: What's Next with Electrical Aggregation?
Voters Tuesday gave the City of Oak Forest the nod to seek out cheaper electricity suppliers—but what's next in the process?
Can they opt out? When does it kick in? What will the new rates be? You have questions, and the city offered some answers.
Residents voted 65 to 35 percent in favor of the referendum, which only needed 51 percent of the vote to pass. Aggregation could save the city as much as $2.2 million, according to energy consultant Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative (NIMEC).
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
- The city will hold at least two public hearings to discuss and create an aggregation plan. Once the plan is in place, city officials and representatives from the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative (NIMEC) — an electric purchasing agent — will prepare and publicize a request for proposals.
- Energy suppliers certified and regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission can respond to the request with their rates and offerings. If they don't meet the requirements, they won't be considered.
- The bid that comes closest to achieving the goals of the aggregation plan will be accepted.
...AND IF THE PROPOSED RATES ARE THE SAME AS THE CURRENT ONE?
- If none of the bids meet the plan's goals, there is no obligation to accept one, and the aggregated accounts will continue to receive power from ComEd at the prevailing rates.
Ald. Chuck Toland (4th Ward) stressed this in an email to constituents.
"...The city will do its due diligence and determine a substantial savings for the residents. If there are no savings, we will not take any actions," Toland wrote. "If we are going to make a move on your behalf, we will continue to educate the residents so that you can make the decision if you want to go along with the supplier we choose or opt out."
WHAT IF I WANT TO OPT OUT RIGHT AWAY?
- A resident or small business owner has no obligation to participate and could choose to opt-out of the program altogether. Customers will receive information on how to opt-out of the process.
There is no reason to opt out at this time because an aggregation plan has not been drafted, and rates have not been compared. Other than the referendum passing, no decisions have been made, Toland wrote.
"You will not be opting out of anything except the chance to see what your savings might be," he added.
SO IF I DON'T 'OPT OUT,' I'M INCLUDED AUTOMATICALLY?
- Yes. Customers who choose to participate in the program will continue to be billed by ComEd since it will be delivering the electricity to their homes or businesses. Also, those customers will continue to contact ComEd in the event of a power outage.
Some residents were skeptical two weeks prior to the vote, but decided to see what the city can do for them.
"I voted Yes," wrote Oak Forest Patch Facebook fan Joan Bravo. "I'm interested to see what kind of savings this can bring to Oak Forest residents. I heard on the news today that New Lenox did this last year and the savings to each household is about $200 a year."
Others are ready to opt out as soon as possible.
"The city has no business getting involved in personal matters, and my electric bill is my responsibility and my wife and I can handle it ourselves," wrote reader Mike Merino. "The more involved the city, or any government entity, is in our personal issues the less freedom we have."