In an era where more and more municipalities are realizing the benefits of retail competition for electricity supply, Greater Alton has been at the forefront … and is reaping the benefits.
Taking advantage of locked-in rates through May 16, our area looks to save more than $3 million — money that goes back into the municipalities, with savings projections totaling $3,129,300.
In 2009, Illinois passed a law allowing cities to consolidate electric residential accounts. Beginning in 2012, Steve Bryant helped to initiate the move in Bethalto, where he served as mayor at the time. This “power in numbers” approach helped the village to leverage a large buying group in wholesale energy markets.
After finishing his term as mayor, Bryant joined Good Energy, the company utilized by the village to procure its energy savings, and continued to serve as consultant. Through Good Energy, other municipalities have followed suit, including Alton, East Alton and Godfrey.
Now, with nearly 30,000 residential homes in the area taking part, each saves an average anywhere from $125 to $130 per year over the next year on their utility bill. Bryant said the benefits stretch far beyond those immediate savings.
“What I like to look at is the economic impact it may have on a region, community or town,” he said. “For example, every community in the Riverbend area belongs to the energy aggregation put together by Good Energy, and many of the townships in the unincorporated areas also participate in the program.”
Municipal electric aggregation allows cities to combine with other communities, allowing their residents purchasing power with the aim of securing a lower electricity rate. It also guides the municipality through the state requirement process, making sure each community it represents follows state statutes and guidelines.
In addition to residential homes, commercial and industrial can benefit from aggregation.
“For those that use over 15,000 kilowatts, we can guide them through the process and ensure they are getting the best prices they can get,” Bryant said. “We have school districts, for example, and those savings can really add up.”
Because Ameren Illinois acts as the delivery system for the electricity, no matter who supplies it, that company is not affected by the change.
Local leaders agree the move has been a positive one for their cities and villages. Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick has been an advocate and supporter of municipal electric aggregation for several years, and says he is pleased with the direction the village has taken.
“I think this has been very beneficial to every resident who has taken part,” McCormick said. “Our total savings this year was $750,000, and that is $750,000 that can now be spent on gas, groceries and other things. If you divide it up, it is a pretty good savings per house.”
Alton Mayor Brant Walker said he is so far is pleased with the savings.
“It saves us money over last year, and it locks in our rates,” Walker said. “It has really saved us a significant amount, and we do not have to deal with the inconsistency of real-time buying. When it comes budget time, we know what we have to spend, and that really helps a city.”
East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said he also was confident this would be a good idea when he saw the safeguards in place to “lock in” savings.
“I know that this has been a successful program that has saved our residents money,” he said. “We thought this would be a good plan, and we have received good feedback from people who pay attention to their bills.”
Bryant says even he underestimated the savings the area would see.
“I knew there would be savings, but I didn’t realize it would amount to this level of savings,” he said. “People just do not realize the amount of money it puts back into their communities.”
By the numbers
City and number of customers participating in aggregation program:
East Alton: 2,000
South Roxana: 475
Wood River: 3,600