httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_zzhYbU_ZI On April 5 Oak Park voters will have the opportunity to authorize the Village to search for better electricity rates for residents and small businesses. The goals of the program, called Community Choice Aggregation, are to save money and reduce our carbon footprint. If the measure is passed by a majority of voters, the Village will gather community input regarding the energy mix and cost savings goals before seeking competitive bids for electricity. If bids are not lower than current rates, the Village can elect to retain the current supplier, Exelon. Electricity would continue to be delivered and billed for by ComEd, no matter what the source, and individual customers will be able to opt out of the program. Illinois is one of several states that allow local aggregation. For example, a program in northeastern Ohio (NOPEC), serving 600,000 customers since 2001, has saved 4-6% on electricity bills, and, more importantly, reduced pollution by 70% by switching from coal and nuclear sources to natural gas and renewables! Programs have also begun in Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
Aggregation has the potential to enhance and support another Illinois climate-friendly policy, the Renewable Energy Standard (RES). Legislated in 2007, the RES calls for annual increases in renewable energy sources (wind, solar and biomass) reaching 25% of total electric power by 2026. Presumably, the demand raised by these policies will help local clean energy businesses increase investments and scale up power capacity, leading to better rates over time. With approximately one-third of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions coming from our current electric power system, it’s important that communities transition to clean sources as quickly as possible.
According to Paul Fern, CEO of Local Power and author of California’s Community Choice Law, “Most cities leading the call for Community Choice are interested not only in reducing electric bills but addressing the many environmental crises caused by the electricity industry.” In fact many of the Community Choice programs have successfully negotiated renewable energy components that are two-, three-, or four-times that mandated by state RES requirements.
More information about Community Choice Aggregation in Oak Park, including a short, informative video and FAQ’s can be found on the Village website: http://www.oak-park.us/aggregation/index.html
Submitted by Jim Babcock