Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 9, 2013

Electric aggregation on ballot

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According to Jeff Haarmann of Affordable Gas and Electric, those who are eligible include Ameren utility customers who are residential customers receiveing service from Ameren on the DS-1 service rate and small commercial retail customers who use 15,000 kilowatts or less annually.

A vote for electric aggregation does not mean residents can no longer receive their electricity from Ameren, Haarmann said.

"There are protections built into electric aggregation by statute and anyone can opt out of electric aggregation and continue to purchase their electricity without a change in the service provider," Haarmann said. "If aggregation is approved, and a provider is negotiated at a lower price, residents would still receive a bill from Ameren and delivery of the electricity would still be from Ameren."

The goal of electric aggregation is for the group to be able to negotiate a lower electricity rate — which is usually a rate locked in for two years, Haarmann has said.

"When we negotiate a fixed rate, that rate can't go up during the course of the term we negotiate," Haarmann said. "But, if the Ameren utility rate falls below the negotiated rate we have, we have flexibility to either re-negotiate with the supplier for an even lower rate or can default everyone back to the Ameren rate. ... The rate can't go up, and there is also a safety net if the rate ever falls below what we secure."

The Citizens Utility Board reports more than 200 Illinois communities have electric aggregation questions on the April 9 ballot.

"Electricity choice must be an informed choice," stated CUB Executive Director David Kolata.

CUB has prepared a Guide to Municipal Aggregation, which is available at www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

The guide includes information that residents don't have to take part in the electric aggregation, even if it is passed, and aggregation does not mean there will be no utility rate hikes.

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