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updated: 7/18/2011 11:04 PM

N. Aurora residents to pay less for electricity

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North Aurora residents will pay about 25 percent less for their electricity starting this fall.

The village board on Monday authorized staff to cement a deal with Integrys Energy Services to purchase electricity. Residents will pay 5.75 cents per kilowatt hour for two years, and small commercial accounts will pay a little more. The contract likely will start Oct. 1, and includes a guarantee that if ComEd's rates drop lower than those of Integrys that customers will not pay more than the ComEd rate.

ComEd's current rate is about 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour. In the last three years, it rose to 8.9 cents and dropped to 7.1 cents, said David Hoover, executive director of the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative. NIMEC is helping municipalities negotiate contracts with electrical suppliers.

North Aurora, Sugar Grove and Elburn residents, in April referendums, gave their villages permission to negotiate on their behalf for electricity. By aggregating customer load, the towns hoped to attract lower rates for the supply. The measure does not affect other charges on the bill, such as customer, metering and distribution facilities charges.

"The suppliers are much more aggressive in bidding in aggregation" than individuals shopping on their own, Hoover said.

A residential customer who uses 800 kilowatt-hours per month should see their bill drop by about $15. The average usage in North Aurora is 800 to 900 kilowatt hours per residence, said Bill Hannah, the village's finance director.

"I know so many of my neighbors are just struggling to pay the bills as it is," said Trustee Laura Curtis, who favored the plan.

Individual customers can opt out of the aggregation and buy their electricity from any company they desire.

Trustees discussed whether to sign a one-, two- or three-year pact. They also discussed an option where, for slightly less savings, the village would have received grants back from the energy providers. Trustee Vince Mancini asked if the Illinois attorney general had issued any rulings about the legality of accepting such grants. They could add up to $50,000 a year.

"There is a smell to it," Mancini said.

Trustees decided, however, that since voters had only been asked for permission to seek lower rates, the board shouldn't consider the grants.

Eight companies bid for the contract.

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