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Frustrated that state law short-circuits city control over Commonwealth Edison, Evanston aldermen this week moved toward asking voters to let the city identify a cheaper power supplier.

State law permits the city to hold what’s called a “municipal aggregation” referendum, which, if approved, would let the city designate a single power supplier to be the default choice for local residents.

With the recent regulatory separation of power generation from power delivery, at least a dozen companies in Illinois now offer to supply power to residents that is delivered over ComEd’s lines.

The alternative suppliers are paid through ComEd’s existing billing system, so residents still see just one monthly electric bill.

Residents can already sign up individually for the new suppliers, but City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says some other communities, including Oak Park, have achieved savings of 10 to 15 percent on residents’ bills by using the municipal aggregation approach.

If voters approved the referendum, they would still be able to choose any supplier they wished, but the default supplier in town would switch from ComEd to whatever new supplier the city chose.

The aldermen directed Bobkiewicz to come up with a detailed proposal for municipal aggregation, so that they could vote no later than December on whether to place a referendum on the March election ballot.

Meanwhile, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is in Springfield today, working with officials of the Northwest Municipal Conference to push legislation the conference has developed in response to massive power outages in the region resulting from windstorms earlier this year.

They hope to amend the “Smart Grid” legislation the utilities want, so it would provide more municipal oversight over the performance of ComEd and other utilities during emergency situations.

The utilities claim that Smart Grid will give them the funds to upgrade their infrastructure to provide more reliable service, but opponents say it will give them guaranteed rate increases without providing sufficient performance guarantees.

State law now gives essentially all control over utility company performance to the Illinois Commerce commission.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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4 Comments

  1. Community Choice Aggregation – Oak Park

    This is a great idea – look what Oak Park achieved recently…

    Oak Park opts for all-green electricity and big savings on rates

    Oct. 18, 2011 – Backing up its environmental talk with an environmental walk, Oak Park has become the first municipality in Illinois and possibly the nation to choose an all-green power program for its residents and small business operators who participate in a new community electricity aggregation program. Oak Park's Village Board last night approved a two-year contract with Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services to supply electricity and credits from 100-percent green sources like wind and solar, while still saving local customers about a 25 percent over the current state-approved electricity provider.

    The cumulative savings for Oak Park consumers over the next two years is expected to be about $4.5 million…

    For the whole story:  http://www.oak-park.us/aggregation/

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas member, CGE Renewable Energy Task Force.

  2. how about that wind farm???

    How about that proposed offshore wind farm that the state and city are exploring the possibilities of??? If we can do this, I think that would be a great potential to cut the electricity rates in our communities.

    1. How about those rates?

      If the wind turbines are built and Evanston is required to buy the electricty they generate, expect your electrical bills to GO UP!

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