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Decatur nixes deal with electricity supplier, reverts to Ameren as negotiations for lower rate continue

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METER READER--This meter indicates the amount of electricity being generated.

Some Decatur residents have begun receiving notices stating that their electricity supplier is changing.

But city officials said there is no reason for alarm or need for residents to take immediate action.

The reason notices were sent out is the city has suspended its contract with Homefield Energy as its energy supplier under the municipal aggregation program, meaning residents who received the rate negotiated by the city will return to Ameren.

Under Illinois law, municipalities and counties are allowed to negotiate for the purchase of electric supply for their residents and small businesses from suppliers other than utility giants Ameren and Commonwealth Edison. The aim is to save residents on their energy bills through the use of collective bargaining power.

Decatur approved the aggregation program via referendum in 2012. Residents have the option to “opt-out” of the program if they would like to choose their own energy supplier.

The city’s most recent deal with Homefield — approved in October 2020 — secured a rate of 4.52 cents per kilowatt-hour through December. However, Homefield’s lowest offered price is now more than 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, higher than Ameren’s 5.4 cents per kilowatt-hour.

“We can't, in our right mind, basically allow our residents to pay eight cents when we know that by just going back to Ameren, they can get it for less than five-and-a-half cents,” said assistant city manager Jon Kindseth.

The change takes effect with the December meter reading, meaning it will appear on customers’ bills in January.

The city will now have two months to negotiate a better rate with an alternative supplier, or else it will remain with Ameren for at least an additional 10 months.

Kindseth said residents should not be worried.

“Realistically this notice doesn't require them to do anything,” he said. “In fact, my recommendation to residents is do nothing and just trust that the city is going to continue to negotiate the best deal for them. But should they want to try and negotiate their own deal, they certainly have the right to do that.”


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