MOUNT CARROLL—Carroll County Board members got an overview on the Illinois Municipal and County Electric Aggregation from Arlene Juracek, president of the Illinois Power Agency, at their June 21 regular meeting.
Juracek was asked to address the county board as they decide whether or not to place a referendum on the November ballot that could result in saving Carroll County homeowners hundreds of dollars each year on their electric bills.
Only Carroll County residents who are ComEd customers will be affected by the electric rate change. Jo-Carroll Energy is an electric co-op and are exempt by law from electric aggregation.
The County Board had discussed the issue at two pervious meetings and are leaning toward putting the referendum on the November ballot.
Juracek started by telling the board they had two options to try to help their constituents save money on their bills—”Opt out” or “Opt In”. The Opt In option requires the board contacting all rural Com-Ed customers and conduct a door-to-door sign-up while “Opt-Out” was by a voter referendum.
She said both options require a Plan of Operations and Governance as well as working closely with ComEd and the winning supplier to ensure customers are identified and receive service.
The County Board, with the assistance of the Illinois Power Agency, must develop a plan of operation and governance for the aggregation program.
Jeracek explained the county must hold two public hearings on the plan and fully inform Com-Ed customers in advance of the program. She also explained what the law requires of the plan.
She said her office will proved assistance during the process but would not act as their attorney. They will provide lists of all supply options available as well as provide sample plans and other assistance.
If the referendum is successful, then the county would act as the agent for Com-Ed customers and seek bids for a lower electrical rate. She suggested not to do any deals longer than two years.
Jeracek said the county should consider hiring a consultant to assist with the project. There is no out-of-pocket expense to the county as the cost is “rolled into the winning supplier’s bid.”
John Cox, vice president of External Affairs and General Counsel for Jo-Carroll Energy, attended the meeting and said Jo-Carroll would prefer not having the question on the ballot in areas where they serve. Cox said he felt it could cause problems with co-op members and the lower rates.
Carroll County Clerk Brian Woessner told the board that according to the law, the whole county needed to be questioned, not just parts of it based on the electrical company. He said it was his interpretation that any change from this would be challenging Illinois state statues and law.
The issue will be discussed with Carroll County State’s Attorney Scott Brinkmeier and more information will be presented to the board.
In 2009 the State of Illinois passed legislation providing municipalities the ability to negotiate lower rates on behalf of their entire communities, but with the provision that any resident who did not want to switch to a new supplier could simply opt out.
Since the deregulation became law, several communities including Milledgeville, Shannon, Morrison, Sterling and Lanark have all passed referendums allowing for the savings.
The county board has until the end of August to make a decision to place the referendum on the November ballot.
County Administrator MkIe Doty presented the board with a financial overview of the county budget for the first six months of the fiscal year.
Doty said they were ahead of their projected budget totals and this was good news for the county.
The board also instructed Doty to begin preparing and streamlining the 2013 budget and Doty said he hoped to have a draft prepared by August. The board will give input and have questions and concerns answered during the budget process.
In other business the board:
-Approved a rezoning request, Ag I to residential 1, from Deb Moltman for property at 5827, 5775, 5759, 5713 and 5699 Riverview Road.
-Approved the appointments of Bruce Lally to the Jo-Carroll Solid Waste Agency and Kurt Brunner was appointed to the Quad Cities Regional Economic Development Authority (QCREDA).
-Transferred $6,000 from county recorder fees to general fund and also transferred $150,000 from public safety to the general fund. Both transfers were per the 2012 budget.
-Approved a resolution for $70,000 for guard rails on Timberlake Road and also passed a matching fund resolution for the same project.
-Approved election judge appointments per recommendation from Woessner.