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PAXTON — Most Paxton residents opted to switch electricity suppliers after all.
Two months after Paxton voters narrowly approved a ballot question in the Nov. 6 general election — by an 869-744 margin — to allow the city to move forward with its electric aggregation program, 1,740 eligible Ameren Illinois customers were sent letters from Integrys Energy Services informing them of their right to opt out of the program.
But only 117 opted out, according to Adler Pharel, Illinois aggregation program manager for Integrys, a Chicago-based alternative retail electricity supplier.
The rest — 1,623 — decided to participate.
The majority — 1,492 — are residential accounts, Pharel said. The rest — 131 — are small businesses.
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 are being automatically enrolled in the electric aggregation program unless they notified Integrys that they wished to opt out.
Mailings were sent to eligible accounts in late December informing them of their right to opt out and how to arrange doing so, Pharel said. There was a 14-day window in which they had the chance to opt out.
The percentage of people who opted out — 6.72 percent — “fits right in the area of our expectations,” Pharel said, noting the number is “pretty average” for a community participating in electric aggregation.
Through aggregation, communities combine households and small businesses into a buying group, resulting in increased buying power for electricity and more competitive prices.
Residents and small businesses in Paxton should see an average monthly savings of $20 or more on their electricity bills, Pharel said.
The program is expected to be implemented the first week of February, with the Integrys supply charge reflected on Ameren power bills in March.
The city has entered into a 16-month agreement with Integrys, in effect through June 2014, to have the company supply electricity instead of Ameren Illinois. Integrys will supply electricity at a rate of 4.024 cents per kilowatt-hour, down from Ameren’s current nonsummer rate of 5.467 cents for residential customers — a 26.39 percent savings — and 6.188 cents for small businesses — a 34.97 percent savings, Pharel said.
Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold said he was pleased to see more people choose to particpate in the program than the number who voted against allowing the program to move forward in November. He said it appears citizens have gained more education on the benefits of the program since then.
Pharel said the Integrys call center received 17 phone calls from Paxton residents or small businesses inquiring about the program between when mailings were sent out on Dec. 21 and Dec 31, three days before the opt-out deadline.
Of those 17 callers, five opted out, he said.
“But a majority were just wanting to know about the rate and terms,” Pharel said.
Residents or small businesses who were not eligible to participate in the program can still sign up with Integrys at integrysenergy.com/il-paxton.