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Mokena Could Go For Power Referendum

In a Monday night planning session, village staff and board discussed steps to bid competitively for Mokena's electricity.

Mokena could join a growing number of Illinois towns in looking for cheaper electricity than ComEd.

They just need your approval to do so.

On Monday night, the village board held a planning session where they discussed several long-term goals. One village goal is to get a referendum on the ballot next year to aggregate electricity prices, negotiating prices from several power companies rather than just taking whatever rates ComEd offers.

The Illinois General Assembly only changed the law earlier this year so municipalities could get other options for power than ComEd. Towns like Lincolnwood jumped on the opportunity, passing referenda in the April election to allow them to look at other options.

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This is all a while off for Mokena. Voters would have to pass a referendum so the village can solicit bids from other power companies. The next chance for that is the February primary.

"For us to get it on the ballot, we would have to get the documents ready by December," Village Administrator John Downs said.

The village could only bid out the power component of the electrical bill. ComEd still owns the infrastructure, the lines and transformers that get power to local homes and businesses. It would just be some other company's power going down those lines if this all comes to pass. ComEd would even still handle the bills; the only difference is the price might be lower.

Trustee George Metanias said ComEd's ownership of the local electrical infrastructure could give the energy giant a leg up on low prices.

"I'm still trying to figure out how someone could do it cheaper," Metanias said.

Downs said the village will never know unless they go out to bid. And it can't legally go out to bid unless voters pass a referendum. If ComEd has the cheapest price, the village goes with ComEd. If the voters don't pass the referendum, the village can't see who has the cheapest price and has to go with ComEd.

"What we want to do there is, if we get this thing out to referendum, we want people to know why," Downs said.

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