Urbana Council Moves Ahead with Electric Aggregation

March 27, 2012

Urbana's city council is wasting no time moving ahead with municipal electric aggregation following last week's approval by voters.

Aldermen expect a second and final vote on the program next Monday after unanimously backing it in a committee of the whole meeting Monday night. It will allow the city to negotiate lower power rates by bundling together residential and small business accounts.

Through a consultant, Urbana will negotiate lower power supply rates through a chosen provider, lowering that portion of Ameren bills. With a number of aggregation referenda approved statewide, Alderman Charlie Smyth says the important thing is to keep the ball rolling.

"I think it really is a race," Smyth said. "And when you have 230 cities pursuing the same thing, we want to get there first, or close to first in terms of getting a good bid."

Consultant Mark Pruitt is working with the city to find a provider to negotiate a lower rate for the supply portion of Ameren bills. He says details of the agreement have yet to be ironed out, with length of the contract among the most important.

"Because that's going to have a real effect on the underlying price of the power that's secured," Pruitt said. "And the issue of renewable energy - how much, what price, and what type of impact that has - which is consistent with what the council has indicated through their questions."

Smyth says he hopes to see a large web-based presence from the city's provider, helping answer questions for new Urbana residents, or for those who want to opt-out of the plan. Other council concerns include how to enroll new residents, and how aggregation impacts those in Ameren's budget billing program. A hearing will precede the council's vote next week.

Champaign is expected to take up the measure soon after its voters approved the program as well.

Story source: WILL