Calumet City, Chicago Heights and Dolton voters back electricity aggregation

2012-11-06T23:00:00Z 2012-11-07T00:49:08Z Calumet City, Chicago Heights and Dolton voters back electricity aggregationGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 06, 2012 11:00 pm  • 

Electricity aggregation, a process by which municipal governments negotiate bulk rates for electricity for all of their residents to try to achieve lower bills, was a popular concept at the polls Tuesday.

Referendums asking voters to give their governments permission to experiment with aggregation were on the ballot in Chicago and several suburban communities, including Calumet City, where the idea passed with 62 percent of the vote, with two precincts yet to be counted.

Another aggregation referendum passed in Chicago Heights with 5,515 votes in favor and 3,227 against it, according to the Cook County clerk’s office. In Chicago, aggregation received 56 percent support, with 7 percent of precincts yet to be counted.

The margin of victory was closer in Dolton, where it only had 51 percent support with 1 precinct yet to be counted. Village spokeswoman Taquoya Kennedy said officials were convinced the remaining precinct would not close the 278-vote gap.

“We’re counting it as a success,” she said.

Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez was unavailable to comment, but officials in Calumet City and Dolton said they would now proceed with plans to advance the idea. Local residents could see lower rates on their electric bills by mid-summer, officials said.

Under aggregation, local residents have the ability to opt out of aggregation if they do not wish to be included.

Kennedy said there is a 14-day time period in which people must indicate such a sentiment. Dolton residents can attend two public hearings in coming months where officials will explain the process to them in great detail, Kennedy said.

There will be similar hearings in Calumet City. City spokesman Tom Mannix said local residents will receive detailed letters explaining the process by which city officials will negotiate with Commonwealth Edison to try to get lower rates for their residents.

Supporters of electricity aggregation have said the process could save residents as much as $300 per year on their electric bills.

This was the first time Calumet City considered the issue. Similar referendums in Chicago Heights and Dolton were rejected in the March elections.

“We think we educated our residents so they understood the issue better,” Kennedy said of the change in sentiment in Dolton.

The only area community where the idea failed Tuesday was Lynwood, where 54 percent of voters cast ballots against the idea with 1 precinct yet to be counted. Village President Eugene Williams had no explanation for aggregation’s failure, which was the second time his suburb’s voters rejected the idea this year.

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