Skokie electricity referendum passes easily
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:41PM
Skokie voters think they know a good deal when they see one.
Promised that they had nothing to lose and only money to gain, local voters Tuesday were on their way to overwhelmingly approving a referendum that will allow Skokie to team with other municipalities to buy energy.
The affirmative vote on the Electric Aggregation Referendum is expected to help lower fuel costs for the village, residents and small businesses. The village Tuesday night looked in good shape to move forward in the North Shore Electricity Aggregation Consortium that was created as part of the process.
With 42 of 44 precincts recorded, unofficial results showed 4,372 or more than 71 percent of Skokie voters supported the referendum and under 29 percent voted against.
Voters in all consortium municipalities, which also include Highland Park, Lake Forest, Park Ridge, Deerfield, Glencoe, Lake Bluff and Northbrook, had to vote yes Tuesday in identical referenda in order to participate.
“(We) would go into the marketplace together,” said Skokie Public Works Director Max Slankard. “Certainly, the hope of that approach is by pooling that size demand, we’ll have more presence in the marketplace, hopefully have more bargaining power and ultimately generate lower electricity rates.”
There are about two dozen alternate retail energy providers to ComEd that are licensed in the state. The eight consortium communities represent 217,000 people with 90,000 energy accounts.
Tuesday night’s early and unofficial results looked good not only for Skokie but for almost all consortium communities in Cook and Lake Counties. That’s not surprising considering the consumer-friendly details of the program. (Only Park Ridge’s close results showed the outcome could go either way).
The new program comes with an opt-out measure allowing those who want buy energy the status quo way to do so — though why they would want to would be a mystery to village leaders.
That’s because the changeover is not expected to pose an inconvenience to consumers once an alternate supplier is found. ComEd will remain the transmission and distribution company for energy and so bills will still come from the electric company like usual.
Skokie leaders have floated the idea that savings could come in at 10 or 15 percent, but they acknowledged they were being conservative.
Lincolnwood was the first in the area to enter into such a pool, and officials there say their savings have been well beyond that amount.
Being the first in the area to go this route, however, helped Lincolnwood save more while Skokie is among a glut of communities that sought the same authority Tuesday.
Skokie though has seven partners for its pool while Lincolnwood has only two, which means the former will be part of a much larger marketplace.
The consortium intends to act quickly and find an alternate energy supplier in hope of having the change in place for the heart of summer when energy costs are at their highest.