Should Northbrook Dump ComEd in Referendum?

March 20 ballot initiative will ask Northbrook residents whether or not they support seeking a new electrical provider.

Northbrook residents wondering about village's proposal to pursue  still have some ways of getting the low-down on this March 20 ballot initiative.

In addition to casting their votes for federal, state and county offices, Northbrook residents will be asked if they want the village to act on behalf of its people by bundling electric accounts and seeking bids for electricity on the open market rather than continuing to buy power from Commonwealth Edison.

Along with Deerfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Park Ridge and Skokie, Northbrook has formed a group called the North Shore Electricity Aggregation Consortium, which will seek a single supplier for all the municipalities that have passed a referendum. The consortium was formed to keep consulting costs low and to leverage greater bargaining power for contract terms, according to assistant village manager Phil Kiraly.

Kiraly said that the consortium is moving toward early selection of a supplier, in hopes of getting to the market ahead of the more than 300 other communities pursuing electrical aggregation on the March 20 ballot. 

If the program is passed in Northbrook, residents will still be able to opt out and remain with ComEd by contacting the utility during a specific time period. Under any scenario, ComEd will remain the distributor of electricity. That means that customers with outages will still call ComEd to report the loss of power, and bills will still come from the same place.

Here's how you can find out more:

Hear about it

Northbrook will hold a public hearing on electrical aggregation during the next regularly scheduled board meeting, Tuesday, March 13, at . The event is free and open to the public; anyone is welcome to speak on the matter.

Read about it

Some background information and a list of FAQs about electrical aggregation is posted on the village’s website. General information about community choice aggregation can also be found on the website of the Citizens’ Utility Board.

Or you can check out our past coverage of electrical aggregation on Patch:

Dec. 14, 2011:

Dec. 1, 2011:  

Nov. 29, 2011:   

Nov. 10, 2011: 

Nov. 7, 2011:   

June 29, 2011:   

April 11, 2011:   

March 24, 2011:   

Jan. 6, 2011: 

D March 09, 2012 at 12:54 PM
With regard to Com Ed, isn't the biggest issue with them the distribution failures? This CCA doesn't do anything to change that... Also do we think we would be affected negatively with the expedience of repairing outages if we went with another electrical company? I would assume Com Ed would rush first to repair those outages in the communities that would still be paying them to provide electricity.... Any thoughts? Despite the increase in costs with Com Ed, it still costs more to have a three day outage than to pay their prices and NOT have a three day outage right?
Stan Anderson March 09, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I really wish the editors on these sites would do some actual studying on this topic instead of just re-printing brochures villages and these for-profit companies are sending out. If 300 towns are jumping to do this at once, I have some serious questions most of you "journalists" need to find answers to. 1) With so many places jumping for this at the same time, will there be enough bulk purchased electricity for everyone to buy, or will this lead to more outages? 2) How many people in the U.S. are losing their jobs because of this being promoted as a sometimes "cleaner" energy source. Other towns in the U.S. have complained that in many cases, this electricity is now being purchased from sources outside the U.S., such as Canada, and costing Americans their jobs. 3) This electricity is purchased in one-year contracts in many cases. What assurance do we consumers have that once villages opt into this program, that the rug won't be pulled out from under our feet after that expires, only to have our rates majorly jacked up after that? Remember, these are for-profit businesses. It remind me of the time Libertyville had a company come into its town in 2000, and wanted to sell allegedly cheaper electricity produced from natural gas-fired plants. They swore it would save people money on their bills, which was a lie, because the price of natural gas then tripled within a year. Seriously, someone needs to grow a pair and start asking some difficult questions.
Jennifer Fisher March 16, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Stan, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In partial answer to your questions: 1. Based on the research I've done, switching suppliers has little effect on outages because outages, at least in Illinois, tend to be caused by problems at the distribution level -- i.e., faulty equipment, trees falling on wires or severe storms like last summer. The distribution will still be conducted by ComEd. (more on that in one of several previous stories: http://patch.com/A-pcKP) 2. At least so far, the electricity suppliers approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission are all headquartered in the U.S. (Actually, 8 of the 25 are in Illinois - several others are in Texas). You can check out the full list here: http://www.pluginillinois.org/Suppliers.aspx 3. You're right, a supplier certainly could jack up the rates after one year, but the municipality or consortium of municipalities could then switch providers. Obviously, there are upsides and downsides to that.
Jennifer Fisher March 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Donna, thanks for commenting. I think you raise good questions for your fellow Northbrook residents to consider. Officially, at least, according to the village, "ComEd is mandated by law to deliver electricity and to make necessary improvements to the transmission system, regardless of where the source of energy is purchased."
Jennifer Fisher March 16, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Ed, thanks for bringing up these points. One note I wanted to make: any ComEd customer can personally switch electrical suppliers at any point and enter into a contract with one of 25 companies certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission. If the referendum passes, anyone who is still with ComEd will have a period of time during which they can opt out and either remain with ComEd or choose a different supplier altogether.


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