By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
The city council will be making a decision on Monday whether to allow the question of electric aggregation for residential customers to be placed on the April ballot.
A first reading on the issue was held Dec. 17, and the second reading will be held Monday. The ordinance will determine whether voters will be allowed to purchase electricity as part of an aggregation group at a lower price.
According to City Manager Ron Neibert, if the question is placed on the ballot and passes, it does not mean everyone must become part of the aggregation.
“If it’s successful, that does not mandate that residents now served by Ameren have to participate,” Neibert explained. “They may opt out. It means the energy supply can be put out for bid and try to get the best rate possible for our residents.”
Affordable Gas and Electric Company has already been given the green light to consult on the ballot question and to find those prices for the energy, should the ordinance pass Monday night.
Placing the ballot question to voters in April has already been approved by the Jefferson County Board for the unincorporated areas of the county; Bluford, Waltonville and Belle Rive have also approved the measure. Dix, Ina, Bonnie and Woodlawn were pending at the time of the December meeting, according to Jeff Haarmann of AGE.
Haarmann of AGE said during his presentation last month there are about 1,800 households in the unincorporated areas of the county and another 5,000 households in the city who could be eligible for electric aggregation. Tri-County Electric Cooperative members are not eligible. In addition, there are protections for those who become part of an aggregate.
“If the Ameren rate drops below the rate we negotiate, citizens can go back to Ameren and the lower rate,” Haarmann said. “There is protection there for the residents.”
For those who would like additional information on aggregation, a phone number has been set up for questions at 207-3450, as well as a Facebook page titled, “Vote yes for lower electricity rates in City of Mt. Vernon and Jefferson County.”