By THE HERALD-WHIG STAFF
Voters in five Adams County towns and in Riverside Township will decide April 9 on an option that would permit them to create a buyers group to seek lower prices for electricity.
If approved, the initiative would enable residential and small business customers in Camp Point, Golden, Liberty, Loraine, Payson and the township to aggregate, or pool, their electric usage to get competitive bids from suppliers.
Customers in communities where residents pass the referendum would be enrolled in the program, but residential or small business electric users will be able to opt out of the program without penalty or fee between the time an alternative supplier is selected and when service from the new supplier begins.
The new supplier will notify each customer by letter of the new service, the new rate and how it compares to AmerenIllinois. A letter from Ameren also will notify each customer of the change in electric suppliers and report the right to opt out.
The savings provided by the aggregation program apply to the electric supply and transmission portion of a customer's bill. The distribution cost, which reflects AmerenIllinois' delivery cost, does not change.
Customers participating in the electric aggregation program would continue to get only one bill from Ameren. It would include the alternative supplier's supply and transmission charge as well as Ameren's local distribution charge.
Programs like budget billing, where customers can choose to pay the same amount each month, will not change, nor will handling of billing and service calls. AmerenIllinois continues to handle calls from customers who experience power interruptions or other service problems.
Electric customers in Quincy, Coatsburg, Columbus and Mendon recently began receiving electricity from an alternative supplier after passing a similar measure in November.
FirstEnergy Solutions, the marketing arm of FirstEnergy of Ohio, had the winning bid for the right to serve the communities. The 4.194 cents per kilowatt hour rate is 1.273 cents per kilowatt hour less than AmerenIllinois' non-summer rate of 5.467 cents, for a savings of 23.3 percent, and 1.936 cents less than last summer's 6.13 cents rate for a savings of 26.3 percent, according to information provided by Reg Ankrom, senior consultant with Simec, an energy solutions company.
More information about aggregation is available online from the Illinois Commerce Commission at pluginillinois.com and from Simec at citizensforcompetitiveelectricity.com.