Evanston’s City Council Tuesday night approved an agreement to let Northwestern University administer the city’s natural gas purchases in the future.

City officials say the university is one of the largest users of natural gas in the state and has been able to purchase gas at a wholesale rate, rather than at retail rates charged the city and other customers.

Evanston’s City Council Tuesday night approved an agreement to let Northwestern University administer the city’s natural gas purchases in the future.

City officials say the university is one of the largest users of natural gas in the state and has been able to purchase gas at a wholesale rate, rather than at retail rates charged the city and other customers.

By being able to buy gas at the same price Northwestern does, Utilities Director Dave Stoneback said, the city should be able to save about a penny per therm, or two percent off current historically low rates.

Saving, he said, could be even more if gas prices return to higher levels in the future.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, called the arrangement “a fantastic opportunity.”

The agreement approved by aldermen calls for the city to switch to buying gas from the university’s supplier — Twin Eagle Resource Management of Houston — from now until August 2012, when the university’s existing contract with that vendor expires.

The university would then seek a new contract to supply both its own needs and the city’s, and the city would get the benefit of the university’s lower price.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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