Electric aggregation referendum passes in Paxton — barely

PAXTON — Paxton voters passed a referendum by the slimmest of margins in Tuesday’s election — 869-744 — to allow the city’s proposed electric aggregation program to move forward.

Mayor Bill Ingold said Tuesday night that he was a little surprised by the margin. He said he hopes residents who voted against the referendum will come to realize the program’s benefits and choose to participate in the program once it is implemented early next year.

“I think it will be good to take advantage of this program to save money,” Ingold said.

Through aggregation, communities combine households and small businesses into a buying group, resulting in increased buying power for electricity and more competitive prices.

Integrys Energy Services, a Chicago-based alternative retail electricity supplier, has indicated a likely savings of more than $200 per year for the average resident or small business. Integrys has already entered into an agreement with the city to be the electricity supplier under the program.

Residences and small businesses in Paxton that use less than 15,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year and are currently served by Ameren Illinois will be automatically enrolled unless they notify Integrys that they wish to opt out, according to Adler Pharel, the company’s program manager for Illinois aggregation.

Mailings will be sent to eligible households and small businesses in upcoming weeks informing them of their right to opt out and how to arrange doing so, Pharel said. There will be a 14-day window in which they will have the chance to opt out by either returning a postcard they receive in the mail, visiting a site on the Internet or calling a toll-free number, Pharel said.

Residents and small businesses that do participate can expect to save 15 to 30 percent on their electricity bills, when compared with Ameren’s current non-summer rates, Pharel said. He said the average savings should be $200 or more per year.

The next step is for Integrys and the city to negotiate a lower rate to replace Ameren’s rate on the supply portion of their electric bills, Pharel said.

The new rate would be locked in for the duration of the term of the city’s contract with Integrys. The length of the term has yet to be determined, but Pharel said most aggregation programs typically are in place for one year or two years.

Ameren will still do the billing for Paxton accounts participating in the aggregation program, but the lower rate would be reflected on those bills, Pharel said.

Please read more in Wednesday's Paxton Record.

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