St. Clair County voters will get another chance to vote on electric aggregation, just months after rejecting the option.
The County Board unanimously approved a resolution Monday night to place on the Nov. 6 ballot a measure that, if passed by voters, would allow the county to bargain on behalf of residents and small businesses to try to get cheaper electricity supply prices.
The measure would affect only residents who live in the county's unincorporated areas and who are not members of electric cooperatives. Those eligible would automatically be included in the group purchase, though they would receive two opportunities to opt out before the process begins
County voters defeated electric aggregation in the March 20 primary by about 1,000 votes. The measure also failed in Belleville, Collinsville and Granite City but was passed in Columbia, Shiloh, Glen Carbon and New Baden.
"There was confusion over the issue," County Board Chairman Mark Kern said.
A company that was supposed to handle public relations for the county in the run-up to the March vote failed to follow through, Kern said. He wanted to put the issue back on the ballot because he has heard from county residents who are interested in the option and in light of soaring electric bills this summer.
"At the end of the day, it is still up to the voters," Kern said.
Overall, voters in 243 municipalities and counties statewide have passed electric aggregation referendums.
Good Energy, an energy management consultant company, is trying to organize governments in the metro-east and other parts of Illinois that have yet to pass the referendum into a single bargaining group, according to Philip Carr, Good Energy's business development director of electricity and natural gas. The company wants to use that bulk buying power to get an electric supply contract that saves consumers money.
Carr told board members that a bargaining group made up of governments that passed the referendum in March has won cost-savings of 25 to 30 percent for residents by using electric aggregation.
"Essentially we are going to make sure you pass the referendum this time," Carr told County Board members.
Good Energy has yet to be hired by the county, and if chosen, would pass its fee on to the electric supplier, Carr said. In August, the county will choose a company to publicize the ballot issue, Kern said.
A customer's relationship with Ameren Illinois would not change under electric aggregation, Ameren Illinois spokesman Leigh Morris said. The only things that would change are the customer's electric supplier and how much they pay for that electricity, Morris said.
Ameren would continue to deliver the electricity, charge for that delivery, send customers a bill and be responsible for fixing outages and other problems.
Contact reporter Kevin Bersett at email@example.com or 239-2535. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KevinBersett