BELLEVILLE — Residents who want to learn more about electric aggregation before the general election can attend an informational meeting Monday at City Hall.
A binding referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot will ask voters whether they want the city to bid for cheaper electricity supply prices on behalf of residents and small commercial retail customers.
This could result in savings of about 28 percent, or $180 a year, per household, according to Good Energy, L.P. The estimate is based on actual savings from communities that already partake in electric aggregation.
The concept leverages bulk purchasing power from multiple municipalities to get the most competitive bids from energy suppliers.
Belleville has contracted Good Energy, an energy management consultant company, to oversee the bid process. Good Energy's fees will be passed on to the electric supplier.
A representative from Good Energy will answer residents' questions at 6 p.m. Monday in the City Council Chambers at Belleville City Hall, 101 S. Illinois St.
Finance Director Jamie Maitret said that if the referendum passes, residents who do not want to participate will have two chances to opt out at no cost.
Also, any contract with a supplier will state that if Ameren's rates were to drop, the supplier will match the lower rate, Maitret said.
Mayor Mark Eckert said the city also has the option of not participating if the bids are higher than expected.
"This (referendum) could pass and they could go to bid it, and we might not get the rate that we hoped, so we might not do it," Eckert said.
The new rate under electric aggregation will depend on market conditions.
"We don't want to force something on people if it's not going to give people significant savings," Eckert said. "If families can save a pretty significant percent on their electric bills, we're all for that."
For more information, visit Good Energy's website, www.munienergychoice.com.
What is electric aggregation?
Municipalities try to negotiate cheaper prices on electric supply on behalf of residents and small businesses. Customers could choose to opt out.
Who will send me a bill?
Ameren Illinois. You would still pay one bill.
Who do I call when the lights go out?
Ameren Illinois. They would still be the distributor but would cease supplying the electricity.
How much will I save by doing this?
Good Energy, the company that will help coordinate the process for the city if voters approve the referendum, says the average residential customer could save $180 per year.
What happens if the referendum is approved?
Municipalities will bid together for a bulk rate, but officials will set individual contracts with terms specific to their own community. Belleville aldermen will decide, for example, how long the contract should last and whether to use renewable energy. After the bidding process, residents should start seeing savings on their electric bills by March.