Toulon joins area’s largest energy buying group, savings to return

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By Jason Musselman
[email protected]

The Toulon City Council voted Monday night to return residential accounts to an electrical aggregation program, which should once again provide financial savings.

In November of 2012 the residents approved a ballot measure to allow electrical aggregation and shortly afterwards the city signed a contract with Integrys Energy, while the county and other local communities signed with Good Energy.

Both companies act as brokers and let bids from energy suppliers on behalf of the communities and they leverage the buying power of the entire group and buying in bulk for a savings.

The city’s former contract expired in June of 2014 and energy rates at the time were lower so the city elected not to renew. After failing to renew, the city had to wait one year before becoming eligible again for a program.

When a contract expires, the rate goes back to Ameren’s tariff rate, which is currently 6.7 cents per kilowatt. Good Energy’s last group contract was at 4.5 cents.

Good Energy recently approached the city asking them to join communities like Peoria, Peoria County, Brimfield and many more for another bidding round that will take place later this month. The group has 160 communities from across Illinois in it and over 390,000 households, according to Jarrod McMorris from Good Energy.

Good Energy says the current savings is about $325 per year, but they expect bids to be a little higher this time, yet still under the Ameren rate. The second year of the program, and the third if the city decides to do a 36 month contract, would see the most savings for the customers.

Just like the process in 2012, residents will have the option to opt out of the program and keep the current rate.

Also, Ameren will still deliver the power and you’ll receive one bill. You’ll also have the option to terminate the program at anytime if Ameren’s rates become cheaper than the contract rates, and Good Energy will help inform the community if that situation happens.

There’s no cost to join the program or terminate. Good Energy is paid via a fee from the chosen electrical supplier, not the city nor the consumer.

Toulon residents should expect letters in the mail in April starting the process. You’ll receive two letters confirming your decision.

Mayor Larry Hollis said he’s not in favor of the option municipal fee that would add .1 cent to the rate and produce about $350 per month for the city.

“I’d rather give that back to the residents,” said Hollis.
On another electrical matter, North American Energy Advisory, a group similar to Good Energy, offered savings to the city on their own accounts, which include City Hall, water treatment, etc. that are not covered by the residential municipal contract from Good Energy.

The firm received bids and Nordic Energy was the lowest, however a discrepancy on the information made it unclear which rate was for which term.

The council voted to authorize Hollis to sign the contract for 36 months if the rate truly was 5.534 cents per kilowatt, and otherwise return with updated information next month. The current rate from Ameren for businesses is 7.07 cents, and like the residential program, the city’s property contract had expired.

In other business, Hollis said he had received a phone call from a pharmacist through TelePharm who was interested in hosting the TelePharm pharmacy in Toulon. The gentlemen, who runs several nearby pharmacies as well, asked Hollis for some information regarding the town, which he is gathering.

The council approved a new parking policy for the north side of Main Street from Franklin to Washington streets. The new policy limits parking to two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

A violation of the ordinance could mean at least a $25 fine and/or the towing and impounding of the vehicle. The vehicle owner would be responsible for the costs associated with the latter.

“It won’t be that at two hours and five minutes you’re towed, it’ll have to be a wide enough margin that there’s no question,” said Hollis. “I think the people will understand what we are trying to do.”

Hollis also added if there’s a special event that requires extended parking a request can be placed with the police department.

Finally, with the recent power outage and associated loss of water in town, the issue of a generator and storage becomes even more relevant.

Engineer Josh Harkin from Farnsworth Group told the council the design and permit engineering work has been completed for the new generator and it’ll be submitted to the city for review.

The other item of high priority was the underground storage tank and Harkin brought the council cost estimates that he did not have last month.

Total engineering costs to allow contractors to bid the project would be $57,500 and the project’s construction is estimated at $507,000. The item was tabled to next month so the council could review the costs that were presented to them at the meeting for the first time.

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