Aggregation in Normal

In response to the PANTAGRAPH”s editorial dated October 25 in regards to Bulk purchase of electricity.

Illinois is a regulated, deregulated state.

Since 2008, residential and small business customers have been able to choose from a list of Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved Independent Electrical Suppliers for their home and small business electrical accounts. The ICC approves each companies plan except the price being charged. Consumers and small business that have made the switch have saved money.

At the same time massive new oil and gas production has begun with new production technology. So much new oil and gas production has been found that if development is allowed to continue the new drilling and production will make The United States the largest oil, gas producer and exporter in the World. News and industry sources project 860 billion dollars to 1.5 trillion dollars in new taxes can be created with no increase in taxes rates. Also 3.5 million new direct jobs can be created in the oil and gas industry.

Ok why is this important to the citizens of Normal?

The new oil and gas production technology accomplished and changed the old accepted wisdom that we were running out of oil. (Peak Energy) .Because of this we now purchase natural gas at much lower prices. Already the new production technology is creating millions of new jobs. But new technology in solar, wind, wave, geothermal, fuel cells, even coal technology has also advanced. We are now are able to start planning to move electrical generation closer to the end users saving the substantial transmission losses. This can also create more new jobs. These jobs can be in Normal.

So why is aggregation wrong?

Aggregation is moving the end user in the wrong direction of creating new local and regional energy monopolies at a time when new technologies have created new sources and vast supplies of new energy. Aggregation moves us towards a consolidation of electrical suppliers at a time consumers having diverse energy choices is in its infancy.

State and local governments need to create a new legal regulatory environment that allows their citizens to have choices at their home and business. The outcome of energy choices is energy production can move from regional super control to greater energy efficiencies from local power development. People can have solar, wind, fuel cells incorporated in their homes and business if they wish. The recent super storm SANDY suggests that local generation/supply energy sources can offer a more diverse and survivable grid. Also people and business who wish can support their choice of energy for their own homes and business. New technology is allowing us to move past a centralized aggregation energy monopoly.

Bulk buying was given as the main reason to back aggregation… “like traveling to a warehouse club “. But bulk buying does work outside of aggregation. Buying outside of aggregation has already produced 4 plus cents per KWH in the Bloomington Normal area. Local small businesses have already purchased at this rate through their trade groups.

The Town of Normal has not been forth coming with details of the amount of money they will receive from this program. At the round of aggregation hearings in March, only after questioning by citizens, it was told that the town could receive up to two percent of the proceeds. This new “Tax” revenue by the town was never clarified in open hearings in planning or Town of Normal council meetings. The money is to be a paid by the private company supplying the energy to the town of Normal. Normal or Bloomington can rightly set and regulate tax rates or fees in open city or town meetings. This has not been done for the citizens of Normal. This is reason alone to reject aggregation.

Another point is people are being forced to buy a percentage of green energy credits. But what the consumer doesn’t realize green energy credits don’t always travel with the energy. The current biggest source to buy credits is from the excess credits from the wind farms in Texas. But the wind farm energy is not coming to Normal-just the credits and the additional cost.

The current aggregation energy expert for the Town of Normal has been touted as having the largest buying group in central Illinois. But in last March’s aggregation election cycle. This energy consultant company did not produce the lowest rates in Central Illinois for the counties and municipalities they represented.

Todd Heyse

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