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Aurorans seeing savings with new electric system

Updated: December 12, 2012 6:28AM

Aurora resident Erica Packer was skeptical when she first found out about the city’s electrical aggregation plan through a mailing to her home.

She was not sure that the plan to keep ComEd lines, but change power providers to a lower bidder, would help her. She stuck with it though, and in October, saw the results. Her bill dipped from $130 a month to $55.

The mother of two couldn’t be happier about it.

“When you’re a single-income family, every dime helps,” she said.

Aurora was one of several area municipalities that offered their residents the option for cheaper electricity via referendum last March. The referendum asked voters if they wanted the city to bid for a lower-cost electricity provider for residents and small businesses. The power would then be delivered through ComEd’s infrastructure.

The electric bills coming out to customers this fall are the first to show the savings from the new power process.

When Aurora’s referendum passed, the city began looking at potential sources and found First Energy Solutions in Ohio.

As of this fall, 81.5 percent of Aurora residents and small businesses are taking advantage of the program.

The city conducted a public information campaign to educate residents between the spring and when the switch went into effect, according to city spokesman Kevin Stahr.

Residents did not have to do anything to become part of the program. Instead, they were given two opportunities to opt out, if that’s what they desired, he said.

The average household taking part in the program saves about $300 annually, and the residents taking part are expected to save $30 million collectively over two years, Stahr said.

Between the high participation rate and the amount of money saved, Stahr said that the program has been a success. The city has also received posts on Facebook, and anecdotal stories of happy customers thanking them for the arrangement.

“We believe that the program has been well received in the community,” he said.

Greg Vandeventer of Aurora was pleased to find out about the potential savings on his electricity bill. “If it lowers the bill, that’s good news,” he said.

Residents of Oswego, Montgomery, Plano, Yorkville, Big Rock, Maple Park and Newark all approved similar referendums in the spring, while Sugar Grove, North Aurora and Elburn gave their OKs a year earlier.

On Tuesday, the referendum was on the ballot in Aurora Township, Kendall County, Sandwich and Somonauk, but only Somonauk residents gave their approval.

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