Members of Citizens Greener Evanston, which organized support for the electric power municipal aggregation referendum, had reason to celebrate when they gathered at Prairie Moon Monday night.

Their efforts contributed to a massive victory for the referendum proposal, which will let Evanston’s city government, along with other municipalities, negotiate to select an alternative energy supplier to be the default choice for local residents instead of Commonwealth Edison.

Of the 66 municipalities in suburban Cook County that had the electricity referendum on the ballot, in only four did voters show stronger support for it than the 73.16 percent who backed the issue here in Evanston.

Those towns were Barrington at 74.98 percent, Northbrook at 75.44 percent, South Barrington at 75.58 percent, Riverside at 74.83 percent and Wilmette at 75.4 percent.

The referendum went down to defeat in 11 of the 66 municipalities. Most but not all of those losses were by relatively small margins.

Supporters have argued that the new approach will result in lower electric rates for consumers. If it turns out the best offers from alternative suppliers aren’t better, the municipalities are free to choose to stick with ComEd.

And residents will still be free to choose a different supplier on their own.

The next big question is expected to be whether Evanston and other communities will focus their search for suppliers on getting the best price, or will choose to pay somewhat more to get power from renewable and other “green” energy sources.

Related story

A third of local power demand set to exit ComEd (Crain’s Chicago Business)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Save money and go green

    73% in favor is a fantastic margin.  Thanks Evanston!  Now, about the renewable energy…

    To clarify that last sentence, we won't pay more for renewable energy, we would actually save just a tiny amount less.

    We won't know for sure how much until the bids come back, but let's look at Oak Park where they're currently using 100% renewable energy.  Their program showed a 24.3% reduction in energy supply charges using 100% renewable, or a 26.1% reduction in energy supply charges with 100% cheap.  The difference–less than a tenth of a penny per kilowatt hour.

    We can save money AND go green!

    Jonathan Nieuwsma

    Citizens' Greener Evanston


  2. Congrats Evanston on making the right choice!

    Next step, contact your alderperson to vote for 100% green.

  3. Congratulations

    Congratulations to the many CGE volunteers  who worked very hard to inform our citizens on the benefits of the Electricity Aggregation Referendum. This presents the city and all of its residents to aceive the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP) of reaching a 13% reduction of CO2 reductions by 2012.

    This potential milestone was one that many believed could not be attained. Now it is in reach if the City chooses a source for its electricity purchase that offers at least a 75% mix of alternative energy. Lets go for 100% and save all of us on the cost of our electricity.

    1. Reaching the climate mitigation number will be difficult

      Mr. Fleckman gives a VERY optimistic spin on the city and community's ability to meet the goal to reduce emissions by 140,104 metric tons of CO2E.

      Last year's assessment indicated that only 23,902 MTCO2E had been reduced in three years.  That is only 17% of the goal.

      We still have 116,000 to go.

      This is largely due to the city's unwillingness to develop policies that would actually realize the goal.

      Remember that THERE IS NO GUARANTEE THAT WE WILL GET GREEN ENERGY from this deal.

      The negotiations between the city and energy providers will be led by the city manager and an administration who have a spotty environmental record–as evidenced by the lackluster performance on the Climate Action Plan. 

      The city manager advocated for gutting the Green Building ordinance and continues to pour city money into building and maintaining parking lots instead of promoting low-carbon forms of transportation.

      "Sustainability" is only deployed as a PR word. If you look at the substance, you'll find that there is thin gruel.

  4. 100% green

    Here's another strong supporter of making the switch to 100% renewable energy. A city of our size making such a choice can make a difference and set a precedent. Congratulations to all those who put this issue before us!

  5. Support 100% Renewable Electricity

    I'm proud of the citizens of Evanston for choosing this simple way to save money and reduce our carbon footprint. But the second part–reducing our carbon footprint–still needs to be worked out. Now that we have let our City Council know that we want aggregation, we still need to support them in choosing 100% renewable electricity.

    The current default electricity mix includes 44% coal, 40% nuclear, 12% natural gas, and 4% renewable according to ComEd. If you have looked into choosing your own electricity supplier from the Illinois-approved list of suppliers (see the CUB website), you know that it is possible for homeowners to get 100% renewable electricity for rates cheaper than ComEd's default rate.

    An aggregated group of homes and small businesses such as Evanston can probably do even better. Now, while the prices are right, we should choose 100% renewable and enjoy a lower light bill at the same time. The City Council will be discussing this question at their meeting next Monday, March 26. Let your alderwoman/alderman know what you think!

    1. renewable energy and council responsibility

      100% renewable energy would be nice but the reality is that renewable energy is very expensive without the billions of dollars in federal subsidies. While I agree that government funds should be used for research that will lead to renewable energy being ready for primetime, it should not be subsidizing private companies just to make them profitable.

      At some point in time these subsidies will go away and these companies that have been built around technology that doesn't pass meet real profitable standards will either go out of business or will have huge price increases that contractually locked in cities must pay.

      Our city council needs to negotiate a contract that is responsible and safe. It would be reckless to lock the city into a contract that becomes a long term nightmare. This means that 100% green energy would be risky unless they get an immediate option to opt out if prices rise to a non-competitive burden.

      The city council needs to act for the city taxpayers and not for a special interest group that wants to meet their goal at any price. 

    2. Real energy costs

      Before people talk about ‘green’ and renewable energy, they should really learn something about the real costs. EPL has the following two books that deal with all current and proposed forms of energy and the ‘true’ costs not just what people would like them to be.  Note the Ferguson book is not giving an argument for or against nuclear—just an honest [the most honest] I’ve seen.

      Windmill proponents might want to check the March 13 Economist magazine “Rare earths and high-performance magnets  An impossible dream?” about the source [China] and supply [several orders of magnitude smaller than what would be needed] of rare earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium.

      Robert Laughlin ‘Powering the Future: How We Will (eventually) Solve the Energy Crisis and Fuel the Civilization of Tomorrow’

      Charles Ferguson ‘Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know’

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