GoodEnergy promotes electric aggregation referendum vote
In August 2011 the Illinois General Assembly did something not usually in its nature - give Illinois citizens a choice about something. In this case it was something called “opt-out legislation” concerning electricity. Boiled down it amounts to giving residents the opportunity to shop for cheaper electricity, possibly up to 25 percent cheaper than that offered by Ameren.
On the March 20 ballot East Peoria voters will see a referendum asking if they approve of the opportunity to purchase electricity from a supplier other than Ameren. Residents and small business owners would not shop for electricity. A broker would solicit offers from electric suppliers and municipal leaders would select the best deal for residents.
Charles deCasteja, managing partner of the New York City firm GoodEnergy, has for months been working to solicit support from municipal and county leaders across the Greater Peoria Area. Last week he sat down with TimesNewspapers to explain the concept known as electric aggregation.
The legislation from the Illinois General Assembly allows counties and cities to take advantage of deregulated electricity markets which increases competition and theoretically lowers energy costs. For the first time residential and small commercial retail customers in Illinois can benefit financially from deregulated markets.
deCasteja said opt-out legislation provides a tool to spread electric competition quickly and efficiently, but under the auspices of municipal leaders.
“Basically, you want to vote yes to see your choice,” he said.
deCasteja said this is a “unique” opportunity because it truly gives residents a choice about their electric provider. He said if the referendum is approved on March 20 the process will begin by looking for the best price available.
Once a supplier is selected consumers will, by law, be notified of the price offered and be given the opportunity to opt out of the program.
After the first bill arrives customers can again opt out within five days.
After that, deCasteja said, a customer can again opt out of the program for what he called a small fee - about $25.
“In the end if they don’t like it they can opt out,” he said.
Ameren will continue to transmit the electricity and maintain the transmission system. Bills will continue to come from Ameren.
“Ameren is fully supportive of this,” deCasteja said, “They are being as helpful as can be.”
deCasteja said Ameren makes no profit on the purchase of electricity. Ameren makes money on the delivery of electricity and will continue to do so.
GoodEnergy has so far enrolled more than 100,000 households in the central Illinois region. The resulting buying power, deCasteja said, will help secure the lowest rate possible.
Given current market conditions, electricity supply cost savings are forecast to be approximately $125 to $150 per household per year.
deCasteja said savings over Ameren’s prices could be more than 20 percent.
Good Energy is already working with Illinois municipalities whose combined population tops 700,000. deCasteja said the more people they buy for the greater savings can be found. The reason this arrangement can offer savings over Ameren’s buying ability, deCasteja said, is simple.
“We can buy at today’s prices — which are at a 10 year low. Ameren buys on a regular schedule, which does not allow for necessarily buying at low points,” deCasteja said. “Ameren doesn’t buy all it’s M&M’s at once. We can. At a time when people are paying almost $4 for a gallon of gas this is a great thing.”