Voters Get Option To Shop Around For Cheaper Electricity

Voters will be asked to decide whether to stick with ComEd as electrical supplier or go out to bid for a better rate.

Come March, Northbrook residents can cast their ballots to kick ComEd to the curb—or not.

At a meeting Tuesday night, village trustees unanimously approved a referendum asking voters whether or not they would like the village to go out to bid to seek a better rate on electricity.

Passed into law in 2009, the option of “electrical aggregation” allows villages to pool residential and small business accounts, combine forces with other municipalities and seek bids from alternate electric providers to ComEd in order to negotiate a better rate. Since the law was passed, at least 19 Illinois communities have entered into agreements with alternative electric suppliers, which require a community vote by referendum. The villages of Grayslake, Oak Brook and Lincolnwood, for example, have already gone out to bid as a group, and were able to save their residents and business owners more than 25 percent on the supply cost of their electric rate, according to Oak Brook village manager David Niemeyer.  

“So far, the reviews have been positive,” management analyst Kendal Maltas told trustees at a board meeting in November. “The [municipalities] that have been bidding out together have seen a better rate.”

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. As Dean pointed out during discussion of the ballot initiative in November, the program would have no affect on —simply on the portion of the electrical bill that accounts for supply costs. 

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, trustees also unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement to form a consortium with seven neighboring communities to seek better rates. Called the North Shore Electricity Aggregation Consortium, the group includes the municipalities of Deerfield, Glencoe, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Park Ridge and Skokie. Under the agreement, each community can reject the bids at any time if they do not want to move forward with the process.

The question will appear before voters on the March 2012 ballot as follows: “Shall the have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?”

For more information about electrical aggregation, please check out Patch’s past coverage of the issue:

Dec. 1, 2011:  

Nov. 29, 2011:  

Nov. 10, 2011:

Nov. 7, 2011:  

June 29, 2011:  

April 11, 2011:  

March 24, 2011:  

Jan. 6, 2011:








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