Electric Aggregation Referendum Results Decidedly Mixed

The delivery charge pays for the infrastructure. Here is a major failure next to Crystal Lake's Best Buy on Main Street south of Route 14.

What I thought was going to be the most uncontroversial item on the ballot wasn’t.

Having put together the bulk buying of natural gas for state government facilities across Illinois while working for the Department of Central Management Services, it seems to be that the bulk buying of electricity is a pretty straight forward proposition.

Unless you don’t trust your local government, what’s to object to?

Especially, since you can opt out of the program if you think Com Ed’s price will be better or you’d rather shop around for yourself.

I figure let someone who has more expertise do the shopping, so I voted, “Yes.”

I had gotten some emails opposed to it.One had two objections, one of which didn’t seem to make any sense to me.

The complaint was made that municipal officials would not be allowed to negotiate the delivery price.

That is completely correct and that is because the local delivery cost is set by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

I figure the person who sent the email just didn’t know that was the situation.In any event that objection was not a legitimate reason to vote “No.”

It might, however, be a reason to vote against legislators who voted to allow Com Ed to raise electricity delivery rates.  (See Senate roll call, which passed by only one vote.  See House roll call.)

The second objection was that it would force peak pricing.  I asked my Lakewood Village Administrator, but did not get an answer.

So, if you voted against the referendum in your area (unincorporated or municipality), please tell readers where you live and why you voted “No.”

Results of McHenry County electric aggregation referendums follow:

Wonder Lake voted overwhelmingly against the proposal as 68% vote No. Why?

Folks in rural McHenry County voted against overwhelmingly against their referendum, 62% to 38%. Was it because they do not trust the County Board?

The City of McHenry's voters cast a 57-43 No vote. Why?

Lake in the Hills voted No as well, by a margin of 54-46. Again, if you are from Lake in the Hills and voted on the prevailing side, tell us why.

Johnsburg is another McHenry Township village where voters turned thumbs down 53-47. Tell us why, Johnsburg readers?

Marengo residents didn't like the idea either. The vote was close, losing by only 8 votes.

McCullom Lake next to McHenry also voted against the bulk buying proposal, but just barely. It only lost by one vote. Why?

Algonquin is in two counties, McHenry and Kane. It passed by a little bit on the McHenry County side, but failed by more on the Kane County side. The result was as 1,557-1,576 vote, with early and absentee ballot still not folded in, for a 50.3% “Yes” vote and 49.7% “No.”

While Lake in the Hills defeated their electric aggregation referendum, voters in the next door Village of Algonquin vote approval by 34 votes.

While the referendum passed in the McHenry County portion of Algonquin, it failed in Kane County. Click to enlarge.

Spring Grove's citizens voted down the referendum by 4 votes. If you are a "No" voter, please share your reason.

Now let’s look at those municipalities where people approved their referendums.

Woodstock citizens barely passed their referendum with only 27 votes to spare.

In Prairie Grove villagers voted 53-47 to allow bulk buying.

Cary voters cast 54% of their votes in favor.

54% of Crystal Lake ballots would favorable.

Huntley also straddles the Kane-McHenry County line. Unlike Algonquin, however, residents on both side voted for the referendum. There were 3,731 in favor and 2,870 against, when the figures were added together.  56.5% voted in favor.

By a healthy 59-41%, Huntley voters approved their electric aggregation referendum.

On the Kane County side of Huntley, the referendum passed 61-33.

The small Village of Ringwood passed the idea by 62% to 38%.

Lakewood voted overwhelmingly in favor of its referendum, 63-37.

I skipped Barrington Hills and Island Lake.


Comments

Electric Aggregation Referendum Results Decidedly Mixed — 15 Comments

  1. Rural McHenry County – I do not want a program where I have to opt out, I’d rather a program where I can opt in. I want less government in my life not more.

    So your comment about the distrust of government is true.

    Not so much my county govt. but overall – state and national.

  2. LITH – The government does not do anything without sticking their hands out for a cut…so your hypothesis that trust in government is low is correct.

  3. Anytime you let the government have MORE control of anything you have chaos.

    Just look what happened when Crystal Lake was allowed to do this with trash collection!

    I am still steamed about that! I am just appalled that ANYONE could vote yes on giving the government ANY kind of a hand in this!

  4. I live in unincorporated McHenry County and voted no.

    Like many other citizens of this country, I have become painfully aware that whenever government at any level gets involved in any economic activity it becomes more expensive and less efficient.

    Sure, it might be cheaper at first, but as the beauracratic administrative state grows over time it eventually costs us all more in taxes.

    For every hard working public employee, you’ve got three more bending paper clips and looking out the window.

    It’s time to get the entitlement dependent culture and the public agency spending under control. Or we’re doomed as a society.

  5. Cal, you asked why someone would vote against this and here is my answer… I voted no because the government has no right to choose energy providers for private citizens.

    While I support the Village of Cary to choose whatever provider they want for thier own energy needs, hands off my electricity.

    Opt-out is not a choice.

    Individual choice will be removed from the citizens.

    I looked at the choices that other area communities have made and found that most DO NOT choose the lowest price provider.

    My neighbor community Fox River Grove chose the highest price alternate provider, only slightly below Com Ed.

    It makes me wonder what kind of kick-backs, graft and corruption have entered into the energy provider selection process.

    And the glossy brochure that was mailed by the Village makes it clear there is financial incentive for someone to have all citizens be SLAMMED into an alternate energy provider.

    Why the results in my community were not as I had hoped, I am glad other communities chose more wisely on these referenda.

  6. Illinois state government has forced all of us to use Com Ed until quite recently.

  7. Cal? How is that a reason to accept local government controlling your choices?

    Because it was once a monopoly?

    Not good reasoning, there, Cal.

    Do you believe that your local government entities are the ones that broke the monopoly for you?

    Going willingly down a rat hole never is a good choice!

  8. LITH – I am glad this was rejected.

    I remember in the early 2000′s when Peoples Energy was pushing a similar deal with getting a “better rate” on gas than Nicor, and I was skeptical when I was reading their brochures.

    Then they got sued and had to pay out $100 million to customers for overcharging them for several years. That case is explained here:

    http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2006_04/20060426b.html

    Checking CUB’s website, it raises some great questions that I haven’t been able to find answers for (in LITH’s press releases or on the Village’s website) as to how much $$ will they be paying a consultant to “negotiate” better rates, and there is no assurance that it will, in fact, lower rates.

    I would rather make these decisions myself, as an educated consumer, than leave it to my well-meaning local government to determine that.

  9. There are a number of reasons why folks should have voted NO on this.

    First, history proves the cities that have aggregated are not saving much, and some are paying MORE. People should have their own choice to buy their products and services.

    They sold this really well comparing it to “buying bulk at Costco” and the like, but if that’s true, then why have the cities that are already doing this providing average-awful rates to its residents?

    FACT: my brother lives in Batavia and they have their residents locked into an awful rate, over 8 cents/kwh to be specific.

    I called the City to ask if its possible to switch and they said no.

    Now that there’s healthy competition in the free market, consumers can go to alternative suppliers such as North American Power, Ambit, IGS, etc and get a rate of just 5.99 on their own, and they didn’t need a government mandate or a bulk purchase to make that happen.

    Free markets make that low rate happen.

    The most recent suburb that I know of to aggregate their electricity to try and get their residents a better deal was Oak Park.

    With their collective buying power, they secured a decent rate… I think it was around 5.89 or something, but that’s still very close to the 5.99 you can get today on your own from most of the alternate suppliers.

    So if you ask me, passing this just makes Government bigger, reduces our personal freedom of choices, and now the monopoly that was once controlled by the utility is owned by the Government.

  10. LITH – I don’t need my property taxes to go up.

    The gov’t doesnt work for free.

    The cost associated with this deal will be passed down to every property tax bill.

    No thanx, I’ll pass.

  11. Looking at the comments above, it is clear that the cities did a poor job of explaining that aggregation was an opportunity to use competition to get lower prices, and that government has no role except to allow residential customers to use the tool of aggregation to drive better bargaining power.

    This is a lost opportunity because of mis-placed skepticism about the competency of government. While governments might be inefficient, they don’t touch any part of the value chain for electricity, and many of the criticism are ill-founded.

    In addition, residential customers can still use any other supplier hey like by opting out. Aggregation increases, not decreases competition.

  12. I voted “no” on this deal as well. I feel local governements have their hands in too many pies already, and this would surely turn out to be a regrettable decision had I voted for it.

    I’m comforted in the fact that most of the previous replies to this post have the exact same sentiments as I do.

    To any local official reading, enough is enough! Focus on doing what ever it is you are currently doing,.. better!

  13. I voted NO on this referendum for the exact reason you (Cal) state.

    I live in Johnsburg, and do not trust our local government any further than I could throw its current well fed president.

    As far as I am concerned, we live in a cess pit of local government corruption that is endemic throughout McHenry county.

    The less they have to do with my services, the more comfortable I am.

  14. So, now that we have seen the rate that the bulk rate that was negotiated is $0.04169 compared to ComEd’s standard rate of $0.0773, I wonder if people still have the same objections.

    I appears what they promised came to fruition.

    Imagine that, lower prices when there is a larger customer pool to negotiate.

    I have no problem with the aggregation.

    Most people are clueless that this even happened or what it means.

    For them, they will reap the benefit of cost savings on their electric bill.

    For for everyone else, they can either enjoy the lower price that was negotiated, or opt out and still look for their own provider.

    I see it a win-win.

  15. Would love to hear whether anyone in communities that voted down aggregation would be reopen to putting it back on the ballot?

    Aggregation has proven to drive down rates below what an individual is able to receive as a one-off.

    Gov’t’s receive nothing from this.

    It is a rare case indeed where they actually have an opportunity to help residents save money without increasing taxes elsewhere.

    If they choose to hire a consultant, they pay them nothing.

    A consultant’s fees are included in the negotiated rate minimally effecting the price per kwh, and are paid by the winning electric supplier and NOT the local gov’t.

    It truly is a win-win.

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