Champaign council approves deal on electric rates

Champaign council approves deal on electric rates

CHAMPAIGN – Most Champaign residents will be paying 4.15 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity by the end of this summer – that’s about 33 percent less than they would have paid without a program that pools residents into one energy account.

The city council on Tuesday night approved a two-year deal locking in that price with Integrys Energy Services. Residents included in the municipal electric aggregation program – the majority of households – will be using 100 percent renewable energy after the city council decision.

The extra renewable energy comes at a small premium. Had the council opted for the state minimum of 12 percent renewable energy, residents would have paid 4.07 cents per kilowatt hour.

Council member Deborah Frank Feinen said “it’s the right thing to do.”

“I think, as a community, to be willing to support green energy to help to begin to build green jobs ... is something that we should be doing,” Feinen said. “And there is significant savings.”

The higher cost of the renewable energy would cost the average customer roughly $10 per year.

“We're not talking about an additional cost to anybody,” Feinen said. “We're talking about maybe $10 less savings.”

Council member Karen Foster was the only voter to oppose the renewable energy option.  She said citizens should have the right to make the choice for themselves.

“They can use that $10 in their pockets to help pay for their storm water utility fee,” Foster said, referring to a new charge the council approved this year that property owners will start paying in 2013.

The vote makes “a statement about how we’re going to do business,” said council member Paul Faraci. And council member Marci Dodds said, “It sends a real clear statement about who we are as a city and what we value.”

The price is slightly higher than residents in Urbana will be paying: 4.06 cents per kilowatt hour for 100 percent renewable energy. Urbana was part of a much bigger pool of cities that sought bidders at the beginning of May.

Champaign’s price includes $100,000 in new revenue for the city. The money will cover the cost of setting up the municipal aggregation program and its operation throughout the next year. Urbana’s price includes $110,000 annually in revenue for the city.

The new price will still save Champaign residents 33 percent on the electric supply portion of their bills, which itself is about 70 percent of customers’ monthly bill from Ameren Illinois. How customers are billed for their energy use will not change – they will still get mail from Ameren Illinois.

Tuesday night’s vote moves the city into the next phase of the program, which voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin during a March referendum. Officials will now send letters to residents informing them of the changes.

Most residents will be automatically enrolled and may “opt out” if they do not wish to participate. To experience the savings, residents need to do nothing.

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keldel69 wrote on May 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

$100K in new revenue for the city?  That seems like a lot of money just for "setting up the municipal aggregation program and its operation throughout the next year".  Are we adding a new position at the city to deal with this program or are we administering it with current staff?

AaronCamp wrote on May 22, 2012 at 10:05 pm

The same night the Vermilion County Board placed a referendum asking voters to approve or reject an electrical aggregation program on the November ballot, the Vermilion County Board gave pay raises to themselves, the circuit clerk, the auditor, the recorder, and the coroner. I am calling for the salaries of the county board chairman, the circuit clerk, the auditor, the recorder, and the coroner to be cut to $40,000 per year with no cost-of-living adjustment.

On November 6, I am asking Vermilion County voters to vote NO on electrical aggregation, because the Vermilion County Board cannot be trusted to negotiate electrical rates on behalf of the people of Vermilion County when they're giving themselves and other county officials pay raises.