Winfield Township asks for voter approval to negotiate electric rates
Residents of unincorporated Winfield Township have an opportunity this spring to give officials permission to negotiate better electric rates on their behalf.
Winfield Township Supervisor Dona Smith said the board agreed to put the electric aggregation question on the March 18 ballot after hearing requests to do so from residents.
Smith did not know how many residents and businesses would be affected if the township moved forward with electric aggregation, but she said the referendum question will only be on the ballot for people living in the township's unincorporated areas.
Many municipalities throughout the state already have sought approval for similar referendum questions, which allow officials to bundle residential and commercial retail accounts to buy electricity in bulk from an alternative electric supplier, usually resulting in lower rates.
Residents and small businesses are often automatically enrolled in the municipal electricity aggregation programs and offered the choice to opt out. ComEd still provides the distribution of electricity, handles power outages and sends out bills.
Naperville Township officials chose Integrys Energy Services as the township's supplier after voters agreed to let officials negotiate a better rate there in November 2012. The rate was locked in at 5.1 cents per kilowatt hour through May. ComEd's rate from last October to May is about 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Other towns, including West Chicago and Warrenville, chose FirstEnergy Solutions as the new supplier following a referendum. The rate in West Chicago is set about 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour through May. Warrenville's rate is about 4.8 cents per kilowatt-hour through August.
Smith said Winfield Township's referendum question is nonbinding, which means the board of trustees will ultimately decide whether the township moves forward with electricity aggregation if voters approve the proposal. The township will not make any money on the referendum.
The earliest an aggregation program could become effective in Winfield Township is dependent on the referendum results and the board's action, Smith said.
"We're really waiting until after the election," she said. "We really need to wait for the results to take the next steps."