A majority of Kane County Board members voted Wednesday to place a referendum on the March ballot that, if approved, would allow the county to seek an electricity provider other than ComEd for unincorporated residents.
The county tried a similar move in 2011 and the vote failed by abut 200 votes.
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This time, county board members said not selecting a broker ahead of time will strip out some of the politics that possibly derailed that vote.
In 2011, the broker selection turned political when the county board dumped its original choice, Progressive Energy, late in the process for perceived associations with former U.S. Speaker Dennis Hastert.
"Part of the confusion was about who was going to have the contract," said County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen. "It was almost like the cart was placed before the horse. I think the question to answer is if this is something voters want to do. If they do, only then would we bid the contract out."
Energy and Environmental Committee Chairman Kurt Kojzarek said the main message voters should understand is seeking alternatives to ComEd is a no-risk proposal.
"If people vote for this, they still have the option to opt out individually," Kojzarek said. "When else in government do you ever see that option?"
In recent years, 17 incorporated municipalities and townships in the Kane County area have opted to get their electricity from a company other than ComEd.
County officials voted in a committee Wednesday, meaning the full county board must still vote next Tuesday to officially lock in the ballot question. However, the unanimous vote Wednesday made next week's vote a mere formality.