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updated: 5/1/2014 6:42 PM

Uncertainty for savings leads to suspension of electric aggregation program

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A partnership of three northern Lake County entities that collectively has been saving money on power through an alternative provider is opting not to renew the contract.

Because future savings were in question, residents and small businesses in Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and Lake Villa Township will have 60 days to find their own option or be switched to ComEd.

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At a time when many other communities or consortia of interests have renewed or inked new contracts with alternative providers, the available rates for Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and Lake Villa Township were determined not to be up to snuff. The trio had been at 5.308 cents per kilowatt hour. Customers had saved about $20 per month over the two-year contract, said Emily Wagner, assistant village administrator.

Lake Villa and Lindenhurst partnered two years ago. The township joined after voters approved electric aggregation in April 2013. The contract with mc2 expires at the end of May, and the group went to bid but the results were not palatable.

"The lowest we saw was 7.1," cents per kilowatt hour, Lake Villa Township Supervisor Dan Venturi said, "and it only went up from there."

Venturi said ComEd's rate is expected to increase when it resets in June. But whether or how much higher it will be than what was available, is unknown, as would be the potential savings over time.

"The rate going forward probably would be less than ComEd's rate going forward, but we don't know that," Venturi said. "If we can save our residents money, we want to do it and if we can't we don't want to do it."

Letters sent to nearly 14,000 residents and small businesses in the three areas said the electric aggregation program will be suspended indefinitely, effective with each customer's June billing cycle.

Individuals will have 60 days to choose another company or be switched to ComEd for the next 12 months.

Other entities have fared better. Last month, a consortium comprised of Vernon Hills and six other communities selected Constellation Energy Resources LLC, as its new provider for the next three years at a price of 6.621 cents per kilowatt hour. Also in March, Libertyville extended its contract with First Energy Solutions for three years beginning July 1 at a guaranteed rate of 6.54 cents per kilowatt hour.

The consultant for both entities was the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Cooperative, which represents about 130 municipalities.

David Hoover, executive director of the group, said about 20 municipal aggregators have renewed contracts and only one reverted to ComEd.

A significant number of communities are waiting for the release of the ComEd rate, he added. It is thought that will be in the mid to upper 7-cent range but no one is certain, he said.

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