County Board approves electric aggregation ballot question


The Franklin County Board set into motion a process that will have voters in unincorporated areas given a chance to answer a ballot question on electric aggregation.

The County Board voted to place a referendum on the spring ballot that mirrors what cities and villages, have done on the question. As those previous votes in the county have done, this question will ask if unincorporated areas should allow the County Board to have the power to choose electrical suppliers at a cost savings for residents.

This was painted as a small number of residents in Franklin County, because electric aggregation cannot be done for residents served by rural electric cooperatives, only those served by large utilities, such as Ameren.

However, at least one person at the table had a vested interest. Board member Tom Vaughn said, “I am one of those who would be affected.”  The number of people voting, and the location of what is thought to be “small pockets” of eligible households will determine which precincts carry the ballot question. The number of precincts impacted will also determine the overall cost of the putting the question on the ballot.

Other actions taken Tuesday include:

  • The Board also approved travel requests for the Coroner’s office, Sheriff’s Dept., and Supervisor of Assessments office.
  • Temporary employee replacements were approved in the County Clerk, Supervisor of Assessment, and Circuit Clerk offices.
  • Approved a mileage rate of 56 and one half cents per mile; Board member Ken Hungate voted “no.”
  • Accepted reports provided by Regional Office of Education Superintendent Matt Donkin.
  • Voted to keep previous reviewed closed session minutes closed.
  • Burton Wills was appointed to the Franklin County Board of Review. David Severin and Gerald Owens were named to the 708 Board, which oversees social service efforts in the county.

W.F. City Council to meet on electric aggregation


The West Frankfort City Council will meet at City Hall at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The meeting is a continuation of Tuesday night’s regular meeting. Mayor Tom Jordan asked commissioners to continue the meeting until Thursday, because he was participating in a conference call on Wednesday regarding electric aggregation.

At today’s meeting, Jordan is expected to report on the call and ask for council action on choosing an electricity supplier.

West Frankfort voters approved electric aggregation in November. The process allows the city to buy electricity for residents on the competitive energy market. (If you still have questions about electric aggregation, check out our Q&A on the subject here: How electric aggregation really works.)

After an energy supplier is selected, residents will be notified of the new supplier and rate, and will be given time to “opt out” of the program and stay with Ameren if they desire.

WF City Council to discuss next step in electric aggregation process


A regular meeting of the West Frankfort City Council is slated for tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 201 E. Nolen St. One of the items listed in the agenda is the next step in the city’s electric aggregation process: Commissioners will consider approval of an agreement with the city of Marion to pool their households and buy energy under the same contract.

West Frankfort voters approved an electric aggregation referendum earlier this month, which allows the city to buy power in bulk on the futures market for residents, a move that can save households 20 to 25 percent on the purchased power rate on their electric bills.

Both Marion and West Frankfort have contracted with Select Energy to facilitate the electric aggregation process, and the company has recommended the two cities buy under one contract, as more households can add up to greater savings.

West Frankfort residents will be given the opportunity to “opt out” of electric aggregation and continue to buy their electricity from Ameren before the program begins.

The Council is also expected to approve a $35,000 loan to Morthland College. This had been discussed at a previous council meeting, but tabled. There had been concern that the city would not be able to grant the loan to the private college.
A third major item on the agenda is the next step in renovating the now cleared site of UMWA Hospital, on West St. Louis Street. The site, being purchased by the city, will be offered to developers. At tonight’s meeting, the Council is expected to approve a $2,500 expenditure to begin Phase One of the environmental site assessment.
A new tenant is expected to be approved for the Business Incubator, Street Department grievances will be discussed, and routine business is also expected to come before the council tonight. As always, the meeting is open to the public.

Questions answered at W.F. electric aggregation hearing


On Monday, a handful of residents attended the first of two informational meetings on electric aggregation at West Frankfort City Hall. The meeting was led by Anna M. Baluyot,  managing partner of Select Energy, of Chicago.

Baluyot reported that on Election Day, 95 percent of the electric aggregation ballot questions were approved by voters across Illinois. West Frankfort was one of the those communities approving the question. This means that the city will work with Select Energy to buy the lowest kilowatt hour rate available on the energy market for the residents of West Frankfort.
In many cases, it was said, these savings could be as much as 20 percent off the rates currently being paid to purchase power by electric customers. Ameren will continue to provide basic infrastrucure in the city, and customers will continue to pay Ameren for the delivery of their electricity.
West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan reported that one of his prime concerns was how current provider Ameren felt about aggregation. Jordan pointed out that the city has a 30-year contract with Ameren Illinois.
“I was concerned about hurting Ameren,” said Jordan. But, once he ascertained that the plan was not hurtful to Ameren efforts, Jordan said he began supporting the possible lower rates for local residents. Now, said the mayor, “The only people against it are the small door-to-door individual power salespersons.”
Baluyot answered questions that have been frequently mentioned during multiple such meetings she has led, including:
  • No action will be needed to take advantage of the savings. You are included unless you choose to opt out. Eventually, residents will receive a letter explaining more about the program and how it may help residents. There will be a card included that you can fill out, to opt out of the program.
  • Ameren will still maintain the city’s electric infrastructure, power poles and lines into homes.
  • You will continue to get one electric bill, but with the savings included.
  • Power purchase will begin with this larger base of consumers in January.
  • The city will oversee the process, with Select Energy, to help insure the lowest possible rate for residents.
Currently, according to Baluyot, “Some 400 Illinois communities take part in this program.”
Another mandated public informational meeting will be held at West Frankfort City Hall at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20. The meeting is open to the public.

Electric aggregation public hearings this week in West Frankfort

Public hearings are set for 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19, and Tuesday, Nov. 20, at West Frankfort City Hall, regarding the electric aggregation process.

Earlier this month, West Frankfort voters approved a measure that allows city officials to seek out proposals on behalf of residents and businesses from electricity suppliers. The city has an agreement with Select Energy Partners to handle the process.

City officials have said they hope that electric aggregation will result in lower electricity rates for the city’s homes and businesses.

The city’s current electric utility, Ameren, would still control infrastructure – such as power poles and lines – and delivery of electricity, regardless of the supplier selected. Residents and businesses wishing to remain with Ameren would be able to opt out of the city’s electric aggregation contract.

Nick Hill, a representative of Select Energy, will outline the next steps in the electric aggregation process and facilitate the public hearings this week.

— Bruce A. Fasol

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News