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County approves electric consortium agreement

WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Board has approved an agreement to merge the electric customers of 13 governments seeking lower rates.

The agreement forms the Northern Illinois Governmental Electric Aggregation Consortium to unite most county governments. They will ask voters next month for permission to shop around for cheaper electric rates on their behalf.

The agreement now will go to the 12 municipal governments that have joined to lower residents’ electric rates, provided their voters approve their individual referendums in the March 20 primary.

Deregulation allows municipal and county governments, with voters’ permission, to bundle together residential and small-business customers to shop competitively for cheaper electricity. As more and more governments last year put the question on their March ballot, the idea came to bundle every government whose voters approve aggregation into an even bigger pool, and likely even cheaper rates.

The County Board approved the agreement on a 23-0 vote without discussion Tuesday evening, after its Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee tentatively approved the wording, 6-0.

The agreement appoints Aurora, Ohio-based Independent Energy Consultants as the consortium’s agent to pursue electricity bids.

Other governments in the consortium include Algonquin, Lakewood, Marengo, Lake in the Hills, Spring Grove, Woodstock, McHenry, Huntley, McCullom Lake, Johnsburg, Ringwood and Genoa, which is in DeKalb County.

The municipalities represent more than 165,000 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. McHenry County will represent the county’s 70,000 unincorporated residents.

The question rural voters will vote upon reads, “Shall the county of McHenry, Illinois, have the authority to arrange for the supply of electricity to its residential and small commercial retail customers who have not opted out of such program?”

Voters in Crystal Lake and Prairie Grove also will be voting on aggregation next month, but their governments are not joining the consortium. Voters in Harvard and Fox River Grove approved aggregation last year.

Customers can opt out of aggregation and stick with their current provider if they choose.

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