MOUNT CARROLL – The Carroll County Board found out at its meeting on Thursday, January 17 that it was the first county in the ComEd territory to vote to approve a referendum for an electric aggregation. Previously, it has been communities and townships that have passed it. Several counties have had the referendum voted down.
Mike Mudge of Rock River Energy Services was invited to speak to the board to explain the steps the county needs to take. Mr. Mudge also described what part he would play in each step, as well as his fees, if the board used his company’s services. The Board later gave consensus to have Rock River Energy get the process started.
“I want to congratulate the Board and the citizens of Carroll County for passing the referendum,” stated Mudge. “That’s quite a feat considering a lot of people are in the co-op and this doesn’t have any value for [those in the co-op]. So, Carroll County is leading the way.”
In the consolidated elections on April 9, Whiteside County will be putting electric aggregation on the ballot for the first time. The referendums for Lee and Ogle were voted down the first time, but will be on the ballot this spring as well.
Mike Mudge worked for ComEd for 35 years and worked at the Byron Nuclear Plant for five years. Rock River Energy is already working in the three communities in Carroll County that have aggregates in place: Lanark, Milledgeville, and Shannon. The fee the company collects for their services is $0.0003 per kilowatt. This fee will already be figured into the bids. Some other companies providing the same services charge up to $0.001 per kilowatt.
Milledgeville was the first community in the county to pass it. At that time there were only thirteen communities to pass it. This past spring, when Lanark and Shannon passed theirs, there were over 300 communities and townships that have approved it.
The next step in the process is to request data from ComEd as to who they think their customers are within the county. Rock River Energy and the county staff will need to scrub the list to sort which of those customers are truly in the unincorporated areas and within the county borders.
Then, they must advertise for, and schedule, two public hearings. Rock River Energy will pick up the cost of the advertising. The objective of the hearings is to review the plan of operation and governance. A second ordinance is drafted to legally allow the Board to become an aggregator.
After that is done, the County will solicit bids from suppliers. Presently, Rock River Energy is working with nine different suppliers. Bids will generally give three different rates ranging from one to three year contracts.
Once the bids are received and the County Board signs a contract with the supplier, it takes about six weeks before the rates take effect. This time takes into account the opt-out period and the switch-over process for ComEd. During the opt-out process, the supplier that wins the contract sends a letter to all those eligible for the aggregate rate. The letter will reflect the current ComEd rate and the negotiated rate for the aggregate.
Unless the customer chooses to opt-out, they will automatically be switched to the new supplier. Once ComEd has switched them over, they will send out a letter stating the exact date they have been switched. That will be the customers’ second chance to opt-out of the program.
State statute allows for multiple communities, townships, and/or counties to join together and bid out for lower rates, by taking advantage of a larger pool of customers. This means that the County Board could, through intergovernmental agreements, pool together and bid out for a new contract with the three communities in the county or other nearby counties, should they pass a referendum in the future.
State statute also provides for a Most-Favored-Nation clause to be added to contracts to protect customers from the possibility that ComEd rates would fall below the aggregation rate. The supplier either agrees to match ComEd rates or allow the customer to go back to ComEd.
Some former ComEd customers have already negotiated their own contract with a different supplier. Those customers will not automatically become part of the aggregate. If this is the case for you, and you are interested in becoming a part of the aggregate, you are encouraged to contact Rock River Energy to see if it is beneficial for you to do so. Usually, there is an early termination fee to leave your current contract. Also, if you want to stay with your current provider until the contract expires, you will not automatically switch to the aggregate either. You will need to contact Rock River Energy then. To contact Mike Mudge, you may call 815-732-4603 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.