On March 20, Forest Parkers will find a referendum question on the ballot that village officials say may lead to $138 worth of savings per year on their home electric bills.

Along with many other municipalities in the region, voters are being asked to give the village the authority to buy electricity at substantially less expensive “aggregated” rates. The village and other large power buyers have been enjoying these rates for several years, paying as little as 5.43 cents per kilowatt hour while individual homes pay 7.73 cents per kWh. With new Illinois legislation, municipal bodies are able to negotiate new contracts on behalf of smaller customers that qualify for these lower rates.

The ballot language will read:

Shall the Village of Forest Park have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program? Yes/No

Nineteen local municipalities passed a referendum in 2011 and are now paying rates below the standard ComEd rate. Additionally, some local residents already signed up for alternate energy providers and can opt out of the process, according to the proposed referendum.

Electric bills will still come from ComEd, which will also handle outages and customer service. That is because, in addition to selling electricity themselves, they also deliver it. Delivery charges, which appear separately on ComEd bills, are about to rise, thanks to Smart Grid legislation passed late last year.

If the aggregation referendum passes, the village will request bids from electrical suppliers. The village currently buys power for streetlights at an aggregated rate, said Village Administrator Tim Gillian.

Officials estimate that, based on past usage rates over 12 months in Forest Park, a total of $1.2 million may be saved by local residents.

“This portends a potential $1.2 million in spending power that could remain within the community,” wrote Mayor Anthony Calderone in a press release. “When a community [pools together] its entire electric load, suppliers are willing to offer substantially lower rates; they pass along economies of scale,” he wrote.

Voters who do not want to request a Democratic or Republican primary ballot at the polls can request a non-partisan ballot that will contain the referendum question, according to the village.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...