The Village of Forest Park inked a three-year deal with Integrys Energy Services, Inc. for the purchase of electricity, bought in bulk for all village residents under statewide deregulation allowing electrical aggregation.
The cost of electricity is rising in general, Mayor Anthony Calderone told the village council June 9, and the price is a moving target, he said.
Calderone announced the village had locked in a price of 7.652 cents/kilowatt hour from Integrys.
“I feel good about that rate,” he said. “Other communities’ rates have been locked in at over 8 cents [per kilowatt hour].”
“Energy costs have nearly doubled since we went out to bid two years ago and this new rate is greater than before but less than any other bid received and less than ComEd is currently offering,” Calderone said in a statement.
The village’s previous contract, with First Energy Solutions for 4.7 cents/kwh expires in August. Villagers voted by referendum in 2012 to allow Forest Park to buy energy in bulk.
Since the original aggregation agreement, the village has walked away from the not-for-profit community consortium NIMEC – the only community to do so, in favor of hiring village engineering firm Christopher Burke and Associates to negotiate the lowest aggregated bid. Christopher Burke is expanding into the energy aggregation broker business.
Neither NIMEC nor Burke charge any fees to the village. They are paid by electricity providers. In the past, NIMEC was paid .0004 cents per kilowatt hour used. Burke Engineering offered a price of .00025 cents/kwh, Gillian said.
Forest Park Administrator Tim Gillian said the village had no problems with NIMEC, but Burke had convinced the village they deserved a shot.
“The energy field is a quickly emerging area of development both with electric and eventually gas,” Gillian said in a May email. “It made the most sense to partner with the group that currently performs all of the engineering required in the village and the firm that is most familiar with all of the infrastructure.”
Calderone also said Integrys was exploring a pilot program where the cost of electricity would vary depending on peak usage times and in conjunction with Smart Meters installed in village homes by Com Ed. These would allow villagers to wash clothes or run the dishwasher at the times when energy is cheapest.
But along with deregulation of the energy market, a Wild West marketplace of independent energy providers has sprung up in the area, some of which are fraudulent.
Village officials in Oak Park and Forest Park received complaints that alternate energy companies had been calling residents on the phone and even knocking on doors trying to get people to switch to different providers that provide higher rates.
“I’m concerned that some of our residents were being taken advantage of,” Calderone said. “Especially some of our seniors.”
Calderone emphasized that Forest Park residents do not need to do anything to get the value of aggregated electricity prices. Residents are automatically signed up for the Integrys plan.
“Last time we did this, many residents, especially senior citizens, were targeted by door-to-door solicitors representing other more expensive energy providers,” Calderone said in a village email.
“These solicitors were very persuasive, often making exaggerated promises and many folks who signed on with these more expensive energy providers felt duped. It is important to note that a one-on-one agreement often comes with hidden costs, such as cancellation fees.
“If you find that a solicitor cannot produce proof of permission from the village to solicit then I strongly recommend you turn them away and notify the police department,” Calderone said. He added that No Solicitor stickers were available from Village Hall.