About a dozen area towns and one county government plan to ask their voters if they want to take part in a plan that’s supposed to lower electric rates.

The potential customer base for bids to supply electricity from the area governments and others that would be part of the same group would be about 250,000 households, according to Kelly Lockhart, executive director of the Coles County Regional Planning and Development Commission. The group worked with several area governments to decide on referendums on the electrical aggregation issue.

All of Coles County’s cities and villages and the county itself have authorized referendums. Other towns that decided to put the question on the ballot include Arcola, Arthur and Neoga.

Monday was the deadline for governments to decide whether to conduct referendums that will be on the Nov. 6 election ballot. Governments that met the deadline still have until the end of the month to provide documentation to their counties’ clerk offices to have the questions on the ballot.

However, Lockhart said he thinks the list of authorized referendums that was available by Tuesday covers all the region’s governments that will be voting on electrical aggregation. The commission worked with others on the issue, but they wanted more time to consider it and might have referendums in April, although then they would be part of a different bidding group, he said.

With electrical aggregation, governments whose voters approve the issue then have the authority to seek bids for electricity supplies for residential and small-business customers, those that use less than 15,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Only customers of Ameren Illinois would be eligible to participate as the deregulation that allows aggregation doesn’t apply to rural electrical cooperatives.

Lockhart said all the area governments would be part of the same bidding group and have agreed to use the same consultant, Good Energy, to handle the bidding process. The bidding group would also include parts of Effingham County, the city of Decatur and some in other parts of the state, depending on where referendums are approved.

The bids would be for all governments where voters approve the issue, and the outcome in one won’t affect any of the others.

Governments that authorized referendums include the cities of Charleston, Mattoon and Oakland, the villages of Ashmore, Humboldt and Lerna, and Coles County. Other referendum documents filed with county clerks as of Tuesday were for Neoga, Camargo, Arcola, Arthur, Tuscola, Paris and Lovington.


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