Important referendum coming up on March 20th!
Residents of Barrington, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Skokie, Wilmette and many other Illinois communities have a unique opportunity to save up to 25% off their electric supply cost and switch to 100% green power.
Renewable power holds great promise in Illinois. State and federal policies have played an important role in wind and solar energy development (see wren post RISE OF RENEWABLES). Now local residents and communities can nudge clean energy further along, and feel better about the sources powering their homes.
Since Illinois deregulated the electric market in 1997, ComEd customers have the option to sign up with alternative suppliers. The phone solicitors, radio ads and mailings by various new electric companies are for real. Thanks to competition, households and small businesses may be able to lower rates and select greener power sources by dumping ComEd. According to Plug In Illinois, over 261,000 consumers in Illinois have individually switched and saved up to 22% on conventional power and 17% on green power.
Now an even better option exists. A new law allows local governments to bundle together residential and small business customers’ electricity load and bargain for lower rates and cleaner sources of power with alternative providers. Evanston Sustainability Manager Katherine Hurley explained similar to the Costco effect, collective purchasing can save more money than individually switching service. In 2011, 19 Illinois communities have already aggregated residents and lowered electricity supply rates by about 25%. On March 20, 287 Illinois communities will ask voters whether their local government can arrange for the electricity supply for its residential and small business customers (who have not opted out).
Vote YES to electricity aggregation on March 2012 referendum
With passage of the referendum, the local government or consortium (such as the North Shore Electricity Aggregation Consortium) will bargain for cheaper rates with alternative providers. In this case, electric delivery on ComEd’s grid will continue. Costs for distribution/transmission and taxes/fees on electric bills will remain the same. Just the supply provider and supply cost will change. Prior to seeking bids, two public meetings are required by law. At that point, residents need to encourage elected officials to chose both cheaper rates AND 100% green power, and reject dirtier default sources of energy. At least 9 of the alternative suppliers offer 100% green power (including Ambit, Blue Star, Champion, Community Energy, Constellation, Energy.me, Integrys, Spark, Viridian). Oak Park’s community electricity aggregation program is the gold standard in Illinois and possibly the nation. Upon bundling residential and small business customers, Oak Park choose 100% green sources (from wind and solar electricity and credits) and lowered supply rates about 24.3% from previous ComEd bills (if they went with a conventional power mix they would have saved 25.1% – a marginal savings difference). At the February Green Drinks forum, Steve Perkins from Citizens’ Greener Evanston said community aggregation presents “the most significant event in Evanston’s sustainability efforts since they began planning in 1999.” By moving Evanston to 100% green power, it is projected that Evanston’s lowered carbon footprint would be similar to removing 56,000 cars off the streets. To learn more about community choice aggregation, check this great resource.
Urge your local officials to select lower rates AND 100% green power
If aggregation passes in upcoming Illinois referenda, 25% of total residential electricity demand could go to ComEd competitors. Imagine if all the new providers were required to supply 100% green power? This new commitment and revenue stream could significantly spur expansion of renewable energy development in Illinois.
Please share this post & talk to your neighbors about the upcoming referendum (many people are unaware)
Unfortunately, Winnetka residents are not eligible to switch providers because the Village has a long term contract with IMEA until 2035 (see wren post WINNETKA’S DIRTY SECRET). Currently, Winnetka’s rates are nearly identical to ComEd rates. With IMEA there is no present opportunity to reduce rates or increase green power. Winnetka residents can purchase carbon offsets to help finance new or existing renewable energy to displace their consumption of fossil fuel based electricity. The Green Power Network lists certified Green-e choices. Other IMEA communities such as Naperville and St. Charles give consumers the option to pay green premiums on their electric bill to offset fossil fuel consumption. Around five percent of households have entered Naperville’s voluntary program.