By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Residents in four Adams County communities should start noticing a new electric supplier on their monthly electric bills.
First Energy Solutions, the energy marketing division of First Energy of Ohio, began providing electric service to Coatsburg, Columbus, Mendon and Quincy in February. Ameren Illinois' customers are being switched over to First Energy as their meters are being read.
"Once the meter was read, at the next billing it will be on First Energy Solutions," said Reg Ankrom, a senior consultant with Simec, which represents the four communities in Adams County.
Under municipal aggregation, residents and small businesses are grouped together to allow the city to bid for electric supply on their behalf to lower costs. Ameren remains responsible for the billing and delivery of the electricity. The referendum was approved by 65 percent of Quincy voters in November.
In December, a rate of 4.194 cents per kilowatt hour was locked in for three years. The current Ameren rate is 5.484 cents per kilowatt hour between September and May and 6.13 cents per kilowatt hour.
The rate is locked in for three years, unless the Ameren rate dips below 4.194 cents per kilowatt hour. First Energy would have the option to match Ameren's rate or revert customers back to Ameren.
The contract includes a provision that allows customers to opt out of the program whenever they desire. Customers also received two notices with the opt out questions. According to Simec, 5.7 percent of customers opted out of the program.
Quincy Mayor John Spring said residents grouped together to bid for power is a way the city can help residents save a little bit.
"This is how we're going to try give them better electric rates," he said.
The four communities may not be the only communities that switch from Ameren Illinois.
Voters in Camp Point, Golden, Liberty, Loraine, Payson and Riverside Township will consider their own electric aggregation referendums on April 9.
Ankrom said Simec has been trying to get the word out in the communities and would be hosting some informational meetings.
"We want people to feel comfortable knowing what decision they'll before they go to the booth or ballot box," he said.