Following a process the Village of New Lenox went through last year, the New Lenox Township Board of Trustees is seeking voter approval on the Nov. 6 election to shop for cheaper aggregate energy rates.
In an effort to minimize the cost for residents in unincorporated New Lenox Township, which includes parts of Mokena, the board is hoping to establish an energy aggregation program. The plan is meant to offer lower electricity rates by gaining the bulk price advantage.
This particular referendum question is for residents and small commercial customers in unincorporated New Lenox.
On hearing the news that the Illinois General Assembly in July approved a bill granting Illinois townships the authority, through referendum, to bid for energy aggregation, the board agreed to seek voter approval in a referendum. Previously, only municipalities and counties were authorized to put the matter directly before the voters.
Last April, the village asked residents within its boundaries the same question. When the votes were tallied, 60 percent approved the measure.
When the village struck a deal with Direct Energy to offer lower electricity rates at a bulk price, residents were told they could knock off about 25 percent of their electric bill, or fend for themselves and try to find even better prices.
Residents already enrolled are currently receiving a rate of 5.89 cents per kilowatt hour.
Township officials are looking at a 15-30 percent rate reduction
The question on the ballot asks voters in unincorporated New Lenox Township "to grant the board the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for residential and small commercial customers who have not opted out of the program."
If the referendum passes, residents can still opt out and fend for themselves on the open market.
According to Township Supervisor Bill McCollum, many Will County municipalities like the Village of New Lenox have approved aggregation and are seeing the benefits.
Learn about the energy aggregation at the township open house
An open house to discuss the referendum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at the New Lenox Township Office, 1100 S. Cedar Road. Voters are encouraged to come, said McCollum.
McCollum is an enthusiastic supporter of the energy aggregation program. “Residential and commercial community members win with energy aggregation by becoming one large buying group. Our unincorporated residents benefit with more choices and price stability” he said.
“Our board followed this recent legislation closely and we acted quickly to place this on the Nov. 6 ballot. We believe that unincorporated residents should benefit from aggregation similar to residents of the Village of New Lenox. At least this gives our citizens a choice.”
Commonwealth Edison currently has a rate of 8.32 cents per kWh (kilowatt hours,) if the referendum passes, residents could see savings in the range of 15 to 30 percent. "That's what we're seeing on the open market, he added.
So far, engergy aggregation programs have successfully guaranteed rates for between 18-to-24 months. "It depends on the bids that come in and what they offer," he said.
If the referendum passes, the board expects to issue bids and have them returned by January 2013.
“If the voters approve aggregation in November, unincorporated residents and commercial customers can begin seeing these benefits next spring,” he added.
For questions, residents can access the New Lenox Township website or call the Township Aggregation toll free number at 855-877-0070.
Get news alerts and Facebook updates from these Lincoln-Way Patch sites: