Power aggregation has led to energy savings for participating communities, but the long-term prospects are unclear. (Photo courtesy flickr)
By Eric Stock
BLOOMINGTON - An energy consultant that's leading the push for municipalities to join in power aggregation is taking some of the blame for why the measure failed in Bloomington and Normal in the spring.
Phillip Carr with Good Energy said 51 city and county governments in central and southern Illinois which opted to join the power buy-in in March will save an estimated $80 million over the next two years.
"As the consultant, we clearly didn't get enough education out there, because there was a lot of feedback saying that 'Oh, if I had known what this was about I would have voted for it" Carr said.
Normal has placed the issue back on the Nov. 6 ballot, while voters in Heyworth and Randolph Township will consider the measure for the first time.
Carr says some voters seemed skeptical of what they perceived as more government involvement in electricity, but he said having energy companies compete for business is free enterprise.
"A single household can get the same buying power as the whole group. It really is like a Sam's Club for energy," Carr said.
Municipalities that join can lock in energy rates for anywhere from 12 to 36 months, Carr said. He added that if Ameren were to lower its rates, the energy suppliers have a clause in their contract in which they are guaranteed to match the rate.
Residents can opt out of the plan and stay with Ameren is they wish, but they have only 15 days to submit their request to the new supplier. Anyone wishing to opt out of the program later would have to pay a $25 termination fee.
Officials in Heyworth estimate the village has saved 30 percent on its energy costs for its facilities since it switched suppliers earlier this year.
Eric Stock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.