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County Board to vote tonight on electric referendum

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board tonight likely will join a long list of governments that will ask voters in March whether they want them to seek lower electrical rates on their behalf.

Board members will vote whether to place an electrical aggregation question on the March 20 primary ballot. If approved by rural voters, it would allow the county to shop competitively for electricity for residential and small business customers.

The county referendum would apply only to the 70,000 or so unincorporated residents, not customers living in municipal boundaries. But voters in at least 10 municipalities will be asked the same question.

Governments in Cary, Crystal Lake, Island Lake, Lake in the Hills, Lakewood, Marengo, McCullom Lake, McHenry, Prairie Grove and Woodstock already have approved asking voters to decide in March. Voters in Harvard and Fox River Grove approved aggregation in a previous election.

Customers living where the referendums pass can choose to opt out and stay with their current provider, be it ComEd or another service they have chosen.

County officials have been mulling a referendum since September, when the head of an aggregation firm met with the board’s Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative Executive Director David Hoover told the committee that aggregated residents can save an average of 23 percent.

The referendum will not ask voters to choose a particular firm to help seek lower costs. The county has sought bid proposals from qualified firms. About a dozen firms are authorized to aggregate Illinois electrical customers, according to Hoover.

The deadline to put a referendum on the March ballot is Jan. 3, according to the McHenry County Clerk’s office.

The County Board meets at 7 p.m. today at the county Administration Building, 667 Ware Road, Woodstock.

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