Joliet to get “opt-in” option on electric buying group
By bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2012 9:30PM
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:09AM
JOLIET — Joliet residents and businesses will get a chance to join the Will Electric Aggregation Group for discounted electricity costs despite the city’s vote in March against the program.
The Joliet City Council on Monday gave staff the OK to write up an ordinance that would allow city residents and businesses to “opt in” for a program that promises to charge 40 percent less than ComEd does for electric power.
The opt-in approach is a little different than what would have been if Joliet voters had approved a referendum to join the Will Electric Aggregation Group. Then residents and businesses would have had to “opt out,” or inform the new electric supplier that they did not want to take part in the program. This way, they will be notified by the supplier and can respond if they want to join the program.
“If you do nothing, life continues as is,” City Manager Thomas Thanas told the council. “We’re not infringing on anyone’s personal rights. This is only for that consumer who wants to take advantage of the 40 percent savings.”
Thanas’s remark was a somewhat wry comment on speculation that voters in Joliet rejected the referendum because the program was seen as government intrusion into their choice of electrical companies.
Whether people opt in or not, they will continue to get and pay for service, such as power restoration during storms and the delivery of electricity, from ComEd. The program only applies to the actual cost of the electricity, which will continue to show up on a bill from ComEd.
So, the 40 percent discount only applies to the electric supply portion of the bill.
But the Will Electric Aggregation Group, which includes 16 municipalities and more than 300,000 potential customers, has negotiated a 24-month rate of 4.83 cents per kilowatt hour, which compares to the current ComEd rate of 8.32 cents per kilowatt hour. The rate for Joliet customers who opt in will be slightly higher, about 4.9 cents, because of some added administrative costs, Thanas said.
He said the opt-in program will likely come in the form of a letter from FirstEnergy Solutions, the supplier selected by the Will Electric Aggregation Group.
Thanas said he expects to have an ordinance ready for the city council’s approval at its April 20-21 meetings.