By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Residents who are in the city’s electric aggregate are seeing a 14 percent savings over last year, according to Jeff Haarmann of Affordable Gas and Electric.
“We initially anticipated a 26 percent savings for those in the aggregate,” Haarmann explained. “Just before the vote, Ameren reduced its rates, which accounts for the difference. Aggregate rates are still lower and people are still getting a good savings, and the prices are at a fixed rate for two years for those in the aggregate.”
The city approved electric aggregation in April, and Haarmann reported Monday 28 communities are part of the aggregate purchasing power at a lower rate from low bidder Homefield Energy.
Information from Haarmann states the Mt. Vernon aggregate, the Lawrencevile aggregate and the Nashville aggregate are paying a rate of 4.194 with a term that expires in June 2015. Other Southern Illinois communities are paying more for electricity — DuQuoin pays 4.588 through October 2014; Marion pays 4.246 through March 2015; Carbondale pays 4.350 through March 2015; and Murphysboro pays 4.395 through March 2015. Other larger communities have also negotiated higher rates, Haarmann said, with Cahokia paying 4.333; Bloomington paying 4.539; and Centerville paying 4.433; all through May 2015.
“Mt. Vernon is the largest community in the 28 community group, it’s the anchor community,” Haarmann said. “We are anticipating representing another 45 communities after the election, which will increase the ability to market and get good rates. This is an attractive group for companies to bid.”
Haarmann said in Mt. Vernon, 1,017 households opted out of the aggregate, either by choice or due to a classification of customers who did not get cheaper rates and were taken out of the aggregate by AGE.
There were about 800 of the 1,017 residents eligible for aggregation, but did not benefit from the lower rate, Haarmann said. The initial participation rate was at 83 percent, with 13,436 participants in the aggregate at the end of the first quarter of the contract. Mt. Vernon residents account for 4,379 of the households in the aggregate group.
An ongoing issue for residents is telemarketing from other electric suppliers, according to members of the city council and Haarmann.
“We and Homewood won’t contact people,” Haarmann explained. “We have been helping people, mostly elderly, who have been contacted by telemarketers saying they are with Homewood, but are not, and who say they are part of the Ameren program. Yes, they do have a city rate package they are offering and yes, it is a lower rate — but only for three months. Then it goes up to much higher than the fixed rate in the aggregate.
“We want people to know they have a choice, they are free to choose, but they need to make sure they have all the information to make an informed choice, not just part of the information. The telemarketers aren’t telling untruths to people, they just aren’t telling them everything they need to know.”
Haarmann said he is working to get the word out to residents and urge them to call AGE or Homewood if they have any questions about the electric rates and service.
“If someone has a contract with a different carrier and it ends, the other carrier will continue the service until the customer makes other arrangements,” Haarmann said. “People only have to call us to get into the aggregate if they get information of their contract with another supplier ending or if they move into the community and the aggregate. ... Everyone else is already enrolled.”
Homefield Energy may be contacted at 866-694-1262; AGE may be contacted at 203-8328.
Communities in the aggregate include Mt. Vernon, Ashley, Belle Rive, Bluford, Brownstown, Central City, Crossville, Dahlgren, Dix, Grayville, Ina, Iuka, Junction City, Kinmundy, Lawrenceville, Nashville, New Minden, Oakdale, Odin, Okawville, Patoka, Sandoval, St. Elmo, Waltonville, Washington County, Watson and Woodlawn.
Communities with aggregation questions on the March 18 ballot and represented by AGE include Jefferson County, Addieville, Richview, DuBois, Venedy, Irvington, Alma, Kell, Wamac, Cisne, Albion, Norris City, Omaha, Farina, Lawrence County, Sumner, Bridgeport, St. Francisville, Mulberry Grove, Sigel, Windsor, Strausburg, Stewardson, Litchfield, Farmersville, Irving, Taylor Springs, Nokomis, Coalton, Raymond, Butler, Witt, Waggoner, East Gillespie, Mt. Olive, Carlinville, Virden, Medora, Shipman, Carterville, Jackson County, Macoupin County, Edinburg, Sorento, Girard, White City and White Hall.