Lemont Township Offers 'Opt-In' Electrical Aggregation Plan for Unincorporated Residents
The township is working with Solo Energy Solutions to save households up to $300 each year on their electricity bills.
Lemont Township is offering a new "opt-in" electrical aggregation program that officials say could save residents hundreds on their electricity bills.
In March, the Village of Lemont was one of hundreds of communities to pass a referendum that authorizes an "opt-out" electric aggregation program, an option under state law that allows municipalities to bundle residential and commercial accounts and negotiate with third-party suppliers for the lowest price.
Illinois deregulated electricity in 1997 in order to open the marketplace to competition. Before a January 2011 court ruling, electricity companies new to Illinois had no efficient way to deliver their product to consumers because the infrastructure is owned and maintained by ComEd.
The ruling allows new electricity providers to use the existing infrastructure and bill consumers through ComEd, Lemont's current electricity supplier.
Signed into law in 2009, the electricity legislation left out townships, leaving residents in unincorporated in the dark unless their county passed a referendum.
Voters in unincorporated Will County shot down shot down the electrical aggregation in March. Unincorporated Cook and DuPage counties did not vote on the measure.
Last month, Lemont Township trustees voted unanimously to pursue an "opt-in" program, which—through a competitive bid process—would allow unincorporated township residents to participate in electrical aggregation.
Lemont Township Highway Commissioner Sig Vaznelis said the board partnered with the consultant Solo Energy Solutions to negotiate rates on the township’s behalf. Through the competitive bid process, the utility company Energy.Me was selected for the electrical aggregation program.
According to Vaznelis, the program will allow the average unincorporated Lemont household to save between $200 and $300 on their electricity bills each year—a savings of about 30 percent.
Additionally, residents who purchase their electricity through this process will have the option to donate an extra dollar a month to a beneficiary of their choice: Cure Autism Now or the local food pantries.
Vaznelis said Lemont is the first township to provide an opt-in program for unincorporated residents. Palos and Bremen townships are also moving forward with their own programs, he said.
"Making the switch to an alternate supplier is a concept that is encouraged by ComEd," Vaznelis said. "We encourage (residents) to consider this opportunity."
The township's opt-in program does not affect anyone in the village, but village residents are able to sign up until the village's opt-in program begins.
"There is no penalty for cancelation on this program, another thing the Lemont Township Board worked out with the suppliers," Vaznelis said.
On Tuesday, the Daily Herald reported that new legislation will open electrical aggregation to residents in unincorporated areas.
The bill, SB 3170, would allow townships to pass referendums to create electrical aggregation programs for all residents. It passed unanimously in both houses and awaits Gov. Pat Quinn's signature, according to the report.
Vaznelis said the new legislation was not considered when creating the new program, since its implementation is still more than a year away.
"We negotiated with the supplier these terms to allow people to get in right away, but if they wish to change in the future with the new law or with aggregation it really doesn’t matter," he said. "But it does save them money right away with a credible supplier that has been vetted."
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