Evanston voters — like those in scores of other Illinois communities — will be asked March 20 to decide whether to let their municipal goverment seek bids from an alternative electric power supply to serve residential and small-business customers.

Advocates of the plan say it would provide new competition for Commonwealth Edison — and they hope, though they can’t guarantee — that it will lead to lower rates for customers.

Under the plan power would still be delivered by ComEd and ComEd would still bill for the service, but — unless individual customers opt out  — their power would be generated by one of the dozen or so alternative suppliers now operating in the state.

Here’s a city presentation (.pdf) with more details on the ballot proposal.

Polls on other ballot issues

Poll: Dissolve Evanston Township?

Poll: How will you vote on school referendum?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Save money and go green

    Community Choice Aggregation is a great idea–not only will we save money, but we can do so while using 100% renewable energy. 

    While the exact savings rate can't be guaranteed in advance, leveraging our collective buying power enables us to negotiate favorable rates.  Nineteen communities in Illinois have already done so, including the Village of Oak Park.  According to their website, residents and small businesses in that community were able to achieve a 24.3% reduction in energy supply charges using 100% renewable energy, saving the average residential customer $200 over two years.

    The Evanston Climate Action Plan, approved by the city council in 2008, commits to a 13% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2012.  Implementing community aggregation with a 100% renewable energy supply will enable us to meet that target in one bold move and save money while doing it. 

    For more information please see the website

    Save money AND go green: it's a win-win propostion and I urge everyone to vote YES.

    Jonathan Nieuwsma
    Citizens’ Greener Evanston

    PS:  If you're interested in helping, please contact


  2. Community Choice Aggregation

    This is a great opportunity for Evanstonians…  I hope that Evanston can follow the commendable efforts of the City of Oak Park who successfully negoiated a "CCA" program for their residents choosing 100% renewable energy and at the same time saved their residents approx. $4.5 Million over the next two years.

    If Evanston followed their lead with 100% renewable energy, we would reduce Evanston’s carbon dioxide emissions (from our collective carbon footprint) by approximately 284,000 metric tons/year – the equivalent of taking more than 50,000 cars off the road.

    Please please Vote Yes for Community Choice Aggregation on March 20th and support 100% renewable energy!

    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

    Energy Education Associates
    Secretary: Renewable Energy Task Force, Chairman: Transportation Task Force,
    CGE –


  3. a referendum to allow energy savings?
    Why would anyone vote to prevent the city from seeking alternatives? Why did the state legislature have to vote to allow cities in Illinois the ability to choose electricity providers?

    This suggests the law prevented competition. I doubt that law originated with the citizenry.

  4. 100% Renewable and Lower Rates ? Come on now !

    If they promise both, something is fishy.  You can't get both.  Any pitch for such would either be a lie or a 'come on' and rates [extras ?] boost the costs after you are locked in.

    It would be nice but the technology is not there.  All alternatives cost more and will for many years.  IF a lower rate [net of all charges] can be obtained it would be from subsities which government [city, state, federal] would provide which would result in higher taxes [and/or debt] to pay for it.

  5. Shopping for Electricity

    I see no downside to this referendum item, except that so few people know how they will benefit.  

    Nearly all of the larger electric customers in ComEd’s territory have been shopping for their electricity supply for years.  Northwestern University, Evanston Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital, both Evanston school districts, Rotary, the grocery stores, the downtown office property management firms, the City of Evanston are some of the larger hometown examples.  There are thousands of others throughout ComEd’s territory.

    These facilities shop on regular basis because shopping offers a better price than what ComEd is allowed to charge for electricity supply.  Shopping also enables them to enter longer term agreements that can help guarantee future pricing. 

    Many also shop renewable energy to help meet their business goals for reducing carbon footprint.  Local Evanston examples represent leadership in this area.  The Green Power Partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed Northwestern University among the top 10 colleges and universities in purchases of green power.  Whole Foods Market, Safeway Inc. (Dominick’s), Best Buy and Starbucks are among the EPA’s national top 50 with retail presence in Evanston.  Again, there are thousands of others.

    Smaller customers now have an opportunity to shop for electric energy similar to the larger customers.  By aggregating many small users together as a single buying entity, they effectively become a large customer. Illinois legislation allows the City to make these arrangements on behalf of those who want to remain in the buying group.  One could say the City already does it on our behalf for most of the City's buildings, including shopping for renewable energy.

    Dozens of Illinois communities already have embarked on this process.  Dozens more are waiting for the go-ahead from voters, just like in Evanston.  

    The good news is this: 
    – Unless the energy pricing quotes are lower than ComEd’s default rate, the City can postpone the process until prices are favorable.
    – You can stay in the buying group if you want to.  It’s your choice.
    – It’s been done before. We’re not the first. 
    – Collectively, we can help further reduce our carbon footprint.
    – Voting “yes” on this referendum is one of the simplest voting choices you will have.

    I see no downside. 

  6. Vote YES but City must select wisely

    If the people of Oak Park are receiving a 24.3% savings in energy supply charges from 100% renewable energy supplies then the energy supply company is get 10s of millions, if not 100s of millions, of dollars in government subsidies. The is no renewable energy that is even close to being as cheep as oil and coal, and it will be years before renewable energy becomes affordable to the average person.

    There might be a big benefit for this year and next year but that could change from 24.3% savings to 30% more expensive when the subsidies disappear.

    Remember the money that is paying for this type of pricing for renewable energy is either coming from your tax dollars or from China loans. At the current rate of our governments spending and borrowing, in 3 years, our annual tax collection will not cover the interest paid on loans. That is correct; we will be another Greece with no one to bail us out.

    I hope that everyone votes YES but lets not go over the edge with fake renewable energy prices. The city needs to select the best price for the citizens and show us how the deal breaks down for each energy company looked at.

  7. alternative=green?

    I am a little behind on this topic, a little calrity please.  When they say "alternative" energy supplier doesn't that simply mean a different energy supplier?  People seem to be making statements that this means "alternative" energy in the sense of "green" sources when I'm not so sure that is the case.  I don't think the majority of "alternative" suppliers have any contractual conditions to purchase from "green" energy sources at any level even if they market as such. 

    From my limited experience, the best deal for the last many years has been com eds real time energy purchase program.  For most users  who ratchet down their demand during the day time hours, especially from 11:00 a.m. till 5:00 p.m. during the work week, has seen the best savings.  Plus com ed gives you real time notification when certain price levels are hit, enabling you to immediatly cut back.

    There certainly can be downside to aggregate contracts, I have signed contracts only to see market rates fall but I'm stuck with pricing on what is essentially a multi year futures contract and your ogligated to take delivery of product.

    Not that this is a bad thing to explore, we should,  but it is not a can't lose proposition with no downside.

  8. A Logical Choice

    The state of Illinois has deregulated the power supply and allowed customers to choose their own suppliers. If you look at the alternate suppliers approved by the state, you will see several that offer lower prices than ComEd's default price. Some of these use 100% renewable energy. Since these savings are available to homeowners acting individually, it seems reasonable that even better savings would be offered to an entire city (such as Oak Park or, hopefully, Evanston) who aggregates their homes and small businesses. Since the electricity suppliers won't need to market and respond to each customer, they can save money by dealing with an aggregation of buyers, and they can pass on the savings to us.

    Please make the logical choice on the March ballot and vote YES for aggregation.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *