Wilmette, Kenilworth locking in electrical power price
Updated: August 22, 2012 3:38AM
Before the end of this week, Wilmette and Kenilworth administrators should have a price rate locked in for electrical power from MC2 Energy Services, the newly-contracted electrical power provider for residential and small business customers in both communities.
The proposed three-year contract with MC2 should save customers between $340 and $400 just between now and mid-May of next year, Village Manager Tim Frenzer said before Wilmette trustees approved the contract at their June 12 meeting.
Once both towns approve the contract, which can be reviewed each May to ensure the price remains low, administrators working with MC2 will be able to lock in the lowest possible price for customers some time this week. If possible, they hope to have customers who choose not to opt-out of the village wide rate enrolled some time in August, Frenzer said. Kenilworth’s village board was set to have approved the same contract at their June 18 meeting.
Customers in both villages will also be able to choose to require that all the energy they buy amount to the equivalent of 100 percent renewable energy through the purchase of renewable energy credits.
However Wilmette trustees rejected the plea of hundreds of clean air proponents, who wanted Wilmette to choose that option on behalf of the entire village. Had they done so, Wilmette would have followed in the footsteps of neighboring Evanston, as well as Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights and four other local municipalities.
The cost of going to the village-wide 100 percent option could cost the average residential customer an estimated $9.75 annually, cutting their yearly savings by about $10, village staff estimated.
Trustees instead emulated communities such as Highland Park, Skokie, Glencoe, and Northbrook with the individual option.
Trustee Bob Bielinski, who backed the individual option, said the village’s prime responsibility was to get the lowest possible power price for constituents. Setting up an individual choice option allows residents to buy 100 percent clean energy at a lower rate than they can now, he said.
Although an estimated 850 clean energy supporters did sign a petition asking Wilmette to choose the village-wide option, that didn’t mean a majority of village residents shared their view, he said.
More than 1,000 people actually voted against giving Wilmette any authority to negotiate rates on their behalf in this sprig’s referendum, he said: “If those people were here, I’m not sure they’d be saying anything but ‘Give me the best deal you can.’”
Trustee Mike Basil agreed, saying “Really, what we’re talking about is the desire of specific people to spend other peoples’ money.”
However Trustee Ted Mckenna disagreed.
“If we think renewable energy credits are a good thing, then there’s no question,” he said. “It’s either all or nothing.”
Because the final vote to approve a three-year contract with MC2 and to approve the individual choice option was combined, Mckenna eventually voted in favor of the board’s final decision. Trustee Julie Wolf was the lone hold-out.
The village’s top priority was to win savings for residents, she acknowledged, but village staff and its power-purchasing consultants did such a good job that they will probably be able to lock in power rates even lower than they originally had hoped to.
“By giving back a little of that, it’s encouraging the use of renewable energy,” she said.
After the referendum passed, and the village held public hearings on its plan to administer what’s officially known as WP3, the Wilmette Power Purchasing Program, it requested bids from state-approved power companies, asking that the companies provide rate estimates for providing the equivalent of 7 percent renewable energy (the legal minimum), 50 percent renewable, 100 percent renewable and the 100 percent individual choice option.
They got seven responses, and eventually chose MC2, a subsidiary of an Ohio-based company, because it provided the lowest vendor profit margin at all the options, and met the village’s requirements for business stability and customer service.
John Prejzner, Frenzers assistant, said Monday that Wilmette will soon send residents information on how to opt out of the program should they want to, and how the program will work if they choose to stay in. They’ll also get instructions for taking advantage of the renewable energy option.
“It will be a matter of going to a website and entering your account number,” he said. “We will ensure that everyone has full instructions if they want to go that route.”
For more information on the power purchasing program, visit http://www.wilmette.com/wp3.aspx.