Mt. Vernon Register-News

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September 25, 2013

Aggregation to get second look

MT. VERNON — Electric aggregation for the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County will more than likely be back on the ballot in the March 18, 2014, primary.

During the April election, the aggregation question was defeated by 104 votes, or less than 5 percent of the voters. There were also 710 undervotes recorded — the number of people who didn’t cast a vote either way on the issue.

Jeff Haarmann, who represents Affordable Gas and Electric, which has been hired as the consulting firm for municipalities and/or governments approving electric aggregation, said his company will do a better job of promoting aggregation this time around to prevent the high number of undervotes.

“We think if we do a better job of presenting the facts, those 700 people would’ve voted yes,” Haarmann told the Services Committee on Thursday, noting approximately 1,700 eligible Ameren households in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County that will vote on the issue. However, there are still a number of Tri-County Electric Co-Op customers that will be able to vote on the issue as well, although there are not affected by the outcome of the vote.

“Washington County’s unincorporated area approved it by a narrow margin during the last election and we feel like the Tri-County voters may have been the undervotes, and with a little bit of help from those voters, we think it would’ve passed in Jefferson County with relative ease,” Haarmann said.

The County Board will vote next month on whether to allow the aggregation question to be placed on the March ballot.

The goal of electric aggregation is for groups to be able to negotiate a lower electricity rate. For the upcoming March election, there will be another 50 communities pooled together — 70 in all — for negotiating buying power.

During Monday night’s meeting, the County Board locked in a rate for 18 months, joining the group organized by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

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