Usually we advocate that government stay out of the public's private business, but the electric supply referendum on the ballot in Belleville and multiple other metro-east communities is a happy exception.
We recommend passage as a simple way for consumers to save money on electric bills.
In the spring we opposed a similar refe rendum, partially because in Belleville the company was both a consultant and an electric supplier, which were competing interests. Also there wasn't as much information available as there is now.
This time the company is Good Energy, a consultant only, that will pool communities and seek competitive bids to get the best rate possible. The rate is expected to be significantly lower than Ameren's rate. Chalk that up to timing; electricity is cheaper now than when Ameren signed its contracts. But if Ameren's rates drop lower, the winner bidder would have to match that.
Obviously Good Energy is in this to make money and benefits from the fact that residents will automatically be enrolled unless they opt out or have already switched to a private supplier. But other than that, there doesn't seem to be an angle. Belleville doesn't even plan to take a payment, even though it could.
Belleville is holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall to explain in more detail and answer any questions.
If people decide they don't want to be part of the program once the rate is set, they can always say "no." But we hope they will say "yes" at the ballot box so their neighbors have this opportunity to save some money.