Elmwood Park launches third attempt for electric aggregation
ComEd's David Geraghty, electric supplier service manager, talks about electric aggregation in October, leading up to the village's second attempt at an aggregation program. | Jeff Krage~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:28AM
ELMWOOD PARK — After two failed referendum attempts for an electric aggregation program, Elmwood Park is going about the initiative in another way.
The two ballot questions asked voters to approve an “opt-out” program, which would have given the village the authority to negotiate for the lowest possible rates for the village’s electricity supply on behalf of homeowners and small businesses. The referendums were put on the ballot in November and March of last year — and both times the measures fell short of majority votes.
Giving electric aggregation another try, the village is now proposing a voluntary “opt-in” program, with the village still negotiating on behalf of those residents. On Jan. 17, about 40 residents took part in a discussion at Elmwood Park Village Hall, asking questions of Village Manager Paul Volpe and the consultants hired to conduct the village’s competitive solicitation process. If approved, a retail electric supplier would be selected based on which could provide residents with the lowest rate.
The selection would be done through a bid process, officials said. Volpe told residents that he would not recommend an agreement if it is not in the best interest of the village.
“The only way we will determine who will serve us, is if they have the lowest price,” Volpe said. “Who can bring the lowest price to Elmwood Park, is who we’ll do the contract with.”
ComEd would remain the conduit delivering the power supply to residents and businesses. The utility also would continue to maintain the local infrastructure, including the electric lines, transformers and other equipment.
Volpe also said one of the village’s requirements is that the ultimate supplier must adhere to a price guarantee that its electricity rate would never be higher than ComEd’s rate, which is currently about 8.8 cents a kilowatt hour.
If the previous referendum attempts had passed, village consultants said it would have been easier to negotiate the lowest price because the deal would have been on the behalf of all residents. With an “opt in” program, the village would have to bring residents on board, so the number of participants would like be less.
Volpe and the consultants said they plan to bring a proposal to residents that would convince them to opt-in.
Sylvia Corcoran, a retired teacher who attended the meeting, said she preferred the referendum had already passed.
“There would be more savings,” she said. “There would be a great savings if we could all join an opt-out program.”
Volpe maintains confident the village can still save residents money.
“We (Volpe) never give up on providing savings to the taxpayers,” he said.
Residents would have the option to purchase electricity from the selected bulk supplier or go with their own. There would be no charge either way, officials said, pointing out another one of the requirements the village pledged to negotiate.
Leonard Divito said he would probably seek out his own electrical provider.
“I can do it myself,” he said. “I’m still free to get in or out when I want to.”
Volpe said now that the process has been explained, the village plans to host another meeting to present all the terms officials will seek in an electrical aggregation agreement.