By TESA GLASS
MT. VERNON — —
On Monday, both the city and the county are discussing placing questions on the April ballot to allow electric aggregation for residential and small businesses.
“This is an opportunity for residents to be part of electric aggregation and get cheaper electric rates,” City Manager Ron Neibert said. “If the referendum passes, people still don’t have to be a part of the aggregate unless they want to be a part of it.”
On Wednesday, the county services committee, which was meeting as a committee of the whole, also decided to recommend the question appear on the ballot to the full board on Monday night. The city council will also have the recommendation before it on Monday during its regular meeting.
“Any opportunity to allow county residents to save money should be on the ballot,” said County Board member Wayne Hicks.
Both the county and the city are recommending Affordable Gas and Electric be the company to coordinate the referendum question, educating the public and — if the referendum passes in April — find the lowest price of energy for the aggregate.
Jeff Haarmann of AGE said he is hoping to be able to have the entire county and city part of the aggregate, as the more households that participate means better buying power and lower prices.
Haarmann estimates about 1,800 households would qualify for the electric aggregation, although all households in the city and county would vote on the issue. Those residents who are members of Tri-County Electric Cooperative do not qualify for electric aggregation.
“They already own part of a generation plant,” Haarmann said. “They secure their own supply and own the plants. ... They do not have any problem with electric aggregation, and it doesn’t affect them at all.”
The city of Mt. Vernon recently became part of a commercial energy aggregation group, also through AGE. The city is expected to see savings of $40,000 on a two year contract, starting in January. Based on savings from other communities and the going bulk rate of electricity, Haarmann estimated a savings of about $1.3 million in a 12-month period for those in the residential group if the ballot question passes.