CHAMPAIGN – The energy buyers' cooperative formed by the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is holding off seeking bids from suppliers until it has a better idea of what the state Legislature is going to do.
Chamber President Laura Weis said Tuesday the possibility that the Legislature might enact a utility rate freeze kept chamber members from moving ahead with plans to seek bids from electricity suppliers.
"We just really felt we should wait," Weis said, noting that 151 businesses with 449 locations had signed up to participate in the cooperative buying arrangement.
The Champaign County chamber, in league with the Peoria and Decatur chambers, hired a consultant, CQI Associates of Columbia, Md., to calculate the energy load for the buyers and put out a request for proposals from bidders.
It had been expected that the bidding process would be under way by now, but Weis said the chambers elected to wait another 30 days to see whether a rate freeze would be enacted and whether the freeze would extend to small businesses as well as residential customers.
Weis said the chambers didn't want a situation in which members were locked into a contract with higher rates than they'd pay under a rate freeze.
When members were notified last week of the delay in seeking bids, most of those commenting said they were comfortable waiting a while, Weis said.
Meanwhile, the chambers have laid the groundwork for a second buying cooperative for those who didn't get involved the first time. This time, the Effingham chamber will join the Champaign County, Decatur and Peoria chambers in the effort.
Educational sessions for those interested in participating in the second buying cooperative will be held May 7, 8, 21 and 22, Weis said. There's no guarantee the second group will get as good rates as the first group, she added, noting that rates often correlate with the load size.