Schaumburg is having second thoughts about putting a referendum for electricity aggregation on the November ballot, after deciding to forgo the measure approved in many other suburbs.
On Tuesday, village board members will consider a recommendation by its Finance, Legal and General Government Committee to direct staff to begin preparing the documentation for a referendum.
Trustee George Dunham, who chairs the committee, said the recommendation was reached through a discussion among the committee members earlier this month.
"It's a popular decision," Dunham said. "It shows we're doing what we can to help the voters."
The village had specifically decided not to run the referendum in the spring out of skepticism whether there would be any long-term benefit, as well as that there hadn't been any village-initiated referendums in Schaumburg since the early '80s.
And while both of those reasons may still be true, voter approval of a referendum at least gives the village board authority to do what's best when more information is known about future ComEd rates, Village Manager Ken Fritz said.
For the time being, there's a lot of uncertainty about what will happen to ComEd rates in June 2013, he added. But approval of a referendum in November would put the village in position by about March to try to figure out whether staying with ComEd or going to an alternate energy provider would be the better option, Fritz said.
Tuesday's vote will just be about preparing the paperwork. The board would then vote in August as to whether the referendum question should appear on the ballot.
Preparing the referendum would cost the village only some staff time, but moving forward with an actual plan to aggregate Schaumburg's energy supply might cost some further consultant fees, Fritz said.
If a referendum is approved by voters, the village could then aggregate residents and small businesses to seek lower electricity rates than what they may be able to obtain from ComEd individually. Residents of towns that passed similar measures in March, including Arlington Heights, Palatine, Buffalo Grove and Wheeling, are expected to see rates as much as 42 percent lower than what they were paying ComEd.
Individual residents can choose to opt out of the program. Schaumburg residents today also can seek lower rates on their own, though greater savings are often found when a municipality aggregates as a whole.