On hand for the meeting were development partnership board
president Steve Smith, partnership director Michael Maniscalco, Mark
Pruitt of ICCAN and Stacy Young from Ameren Illinois.
at the Lincoln Park District center drew about a half-dozen
Prior to the meeting, Smith said none of the meetings they had
this week -- two in Atlanta, one in Mount Pulaski and one earlier in
the day in Lincoln -- had been well-attended, but he felt the
concept of electric aggregation had been well-received by those
The night opened with Smith talking about how the opportunity for
electric aggregation came to Lincoln and Logan County. Smith is
currently with Farnsworth Group and is the director of business
development and renewable energy projects.
He said his role with Farnsworth has no connection with electric
aggregation, but it did lead him to become more informed about the
program. As the president of the development partnership board, he
saw aggregation as something the partnership could get involved in
for the good of the entire county.
Smith talked about the partnership drawing its support from the
city of Lincoln, Logan County and other areas in the county.
"We saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the communities
and to give them something," he said.
Stacy Young is the community and public relations representative
for this region for Ameren Illinois. She spoke briefly, telling the
group Ameren is in full support of Lincoln going through the
aggregation process, and she also assured them their delivery of
service will still be provided by Ameren.
One of the most confusing parts of dealing with this topic is to
realize there is a difference between "service" and "delivery of
Service is the actual electricity. There are a variety of
companies in Illinois that sell electricity, but they do not deliver
Delivery is what Ameren does when they provide the lines, poles,
meters and the staff to support those items, as well as the billing
and other services associated with an account.
When a resident chooses to buy electricity from a service
provider, the cost of service, electricity, is only about 15
percent of the Ameren bill, with the larger portion being the cost
When Mark Pruitt of ICCAN took the floor, he showed the group a
breakdown of their Ameren bill and explained what part of the bill
is not affected and where the actual cost-savings of aggregation can
Throughout the process, it was also made clear that customers who
choose electric aggregation will have no real contact with their
service provider. Ameren Illinois is responsible for the delivery of
electricity regardless of who the provider might be.
In essence, all the information shared at the meeting was a
repeat of discussions that have taken place and been covered by LDN
in the reports listed at the end of this article.
As Pruitt wrapped up his discussion, questions did come from the
One gentleman wanted to know basically how much money Ameren
would be making from the aggregation. He asked if there were going
to be administrative fees attached to the delivery of electricity
from a non-Ameren supplier.
Pruitt said there were no administrative fees attached, but the
gentleman said he found that hard to comprehend.
The fact is, the law that started utility deregulation in 1997
was written in such a manner that Ameren cannot add a surcharge for
the delivery of electric service from a retail service provider.
Ameren's standard charges for the delivery of electricity include
the administrative costs of their day-to-day operations. Those
charges are not affected by a change in service provider.
[to top of second column]
Another interesting question that came from the floor was: "What
happens if we choose a service provider and that company goes
The answer came from Pruitt and Young as they together explained
that this would basically be a problem for Ameren to deal with, and
it would not disrupt service to any customer.
In the end a new service provider would have to be found, but as
that process was going on, customers would continue to receive their
electric service. The service would be provided through Ameren, and
it would be Ameren's responsibility to collect payment from the
service provider. Customers would have to do nothing, and they would
notice no difference in their electric service.
One of the final questions put to Pruitt was regarding making the
wrong choices. A gentleman in the group said he had noted that in
Pruitt's presentation he had shown several communities that were
saving money by going with a retail supplier. But he wondered how
many communities ended up not saving or even paying more because of
Pruitt said none; every community is saving money, some more than
others, but nonetheless, they are all saving.
He said this is because when looking at a retail supplier, if
that company cannot beat the prices coming from Ameren, then they
don't get the contract. And if no company can beat Ameren, then no
contracts are signed and customers stay with Ameren
After the meeting, Mayor Keith Snyder spoke about the upcoming
election and the referendum that will appear on the ballot.
"All we're looking for (from voters) is the authority to pursue
this. The city isn't going to make a dime from this, because this
isn't that kind of referendum," Snyder said. He went on to explain
that some referendums placed on ballots do involve taxpayer dollars,
but this is not one of them.
All the city is asking voters to do is give them the authority to
investigate this further and try to offer them a savings on their
In addition, if the referendum passes, no one has to agree to
participate in any program the city presents.
[By NILA SMITH]
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