Central Illinois Taking Steps Toward Energy Deregulation
Next spring could see Central Illinois voters having a voice in which company supplies electricity to their homes.
Should voters allow their city councils to act on their behalf when it comes to choosing their home electrical suppliers? Some Central Illinois residents say “yes.” Across the Heart of Illinois and throughout the state, residents of Peoria, East Peoria, Pekin, Morton, Eureka, Roanoke and other cities and towns could save at least 20 percent on yearly electric costs, which could add up to approximately $150 in annual savings, according to local officials.
“I think it’s nice for voters to have a choice and a say in who gets their money,” says Eureka resident, Beverly Woode.
“I’ve always been in favor of deregulation,” says Phil Duncan, a Peoria resident. “I’ve lived in Peoria for 50 years and seen our local governments do a lot of good things and some things I didn’t approve of. This would definitely be one of the good.”
Stacking the Savings
The energy trend, formally named municipal electric aggregation, would continue deregulation in the state. Electrical aggregation, which has saved Illinois businesses and government money for years, involves lowering electric rates by pooling electric usage by small businesses and residences, rather than simply homeowners alone. Local governments cannot, however, act on citizens’ behalf without a referendum, which could be approved during the March 20 primary election in 2012.
Some citizens have asked about the bidding process as well as the type of information a referendum would contain. The bidding process for electric rates would be determined using a process identical to that which is used when seeking construction bids for an infrastructure project, according to local officials.
Local officials are hopeful aggregation will benefit residents as much as it has benefited businesses and believe that it is each local government’s responsibility to provide as many benefits to their respective residents as possible. Officials also say the new process could serve as an economic stimulator on the local level, prompting residents to spend their extra savings on other consumer goods. Past estimates revealed that municipal electric aggregation has saved Peoria just under $150,000 each year over the past two years.
Consulting the Experts
Local governments are consulting with energy experts to assist with negotiations, namely Good Energy in New York, with which Roanoke and Eureka officials have signed contracts. Officials in Peoria and other locations are considering agreements with such experts as Bluestar Energy Solutions in Chicago as well as Rock River Energy Services.
Voters in East Peoria, Peoria, Pekin, Eureka and Morton would not be required to abide by their local government’s choice of energy providers should the referendum be approved. Small businesses and individual homeowners can do business with their own suppliers of electricity, some of which have currently been requesting homeowner participation.
Homeowners enjoy the fact that they can choose whether or not they wish to participate in the aggregation. “When it gets right down to it, it doesn’t matter to me who gets my check every month, but I do like the fact that I have a choice and I’m not being forced to get involved with something I don’t want to do,” says Jesse, a Peoria resident. “That’s the way it should always be, if you ask me.”