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Municipal Electricity Aggregation Voted Down in Bloomington and Normal

Over 280 cities, towns and counties in Illinois – out of a total of 300 – voted in favor of municipal electricity aggregation. But Bloomington and Normal decided against the proposal – 59% against in Bloomington and 55% against in Normal.

Municipal electricity aggregation allows a local government to bid for an electricity supplier, and negotiate over price, for residents of a locality. Individual residents would have the choice of opting out of the municipal pool and choosing their own supplier.

The vote against aggregation in Bloomington and Normal puts the two municipalities in the minority in central Illinois. Of surrounding communities, only El Paso, Danvers and Streator voted against the measure.

Local proponents of electricity aggregation pointed out that consumers would save money as a result, since municipalities would have more market power in securing lower rates for residents. Moreover, municipalities could choose clean sources of electricity over dirty coal. For the first time, electricity from wind power is cheaper than coal.

Activists in the right-wing Tea Party were vocal in their opposition to the municipal effort. Some oppose any governmental action in the electricity market. Many Tea Party leaders oppose any efforts to build an environmentally sustainable society.

Individuals in Bloomington and Normal still have the option of choosing Blue Star Energy as their electricity supplier, which supports clean renewable wind power. There will likely be opportunities for Bloomington and Normal residents to vote for electricity aggregation in the future.

Forum: Aggregation will Yield Savings; Vote Yes (Peoria Journal Star), By William Rau
Electricity Aggregation Question Could Come Back, by Stephanie Pawlowski (WJBC)


11 thoughts on “Municipal Electricity Aggregation Voted Down in Bloomington and Normal

  1. You are right. The TEA Party is against sustainable development because we know what that really means. Who tells us what’s sustainable? Government. We do not believe government is smarter than us. In fact, there are many many instances of them being plain stupid. We refuse to be forced into high rises in the cities, ride bicycles, and drive electric cars. I think we still have a Constitution, not sure though.

    Posted by Diane | March 22, 2012, 12:26 am
  2. Diane,

    You have a right to continue to buy coal-fired power even though its cost is increasing, as the energy content of coal continues to decrease and lots of increasingly expensive diesel fuel is needed to mine and transport it, whereas wind power continues to decrease in cost due to a virtuous circle of more efficient turbines manufactured at lower costs. But please don’t impose your costly financial decisions on others. You have a free choice; why are you trying to impose reduced choices on others?

    On a life cycle basis, wind generates ~10 grams of carbon per kWh compared to ~900 for coal. OK, you don’t believe in climate change: what about the sulfur, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, radioactive elements, etc., etc., that coal releases. Have you no concern for large and increasing numbers of asthma sufferers, just to list one health relate issue?

    And water. Wind power uses NO water; coal-fired plants lock up copious amounts of water. Bloomington has run out of spare water capacity and will face a water shortfall during the next drought which, sooner or later, will visit our area.

    Can you provide even one justification for the continued use of coal as a source of power, other than the profits it generates for the Coke brothers, the financial kingpins behind the Tea Party and other right-wing conspiracy groups?

    Posted by Bill Rau | March 22, 2012, 4:37 am
  3. List all the facts you think you know! Facts are a strange thing though, they can be made to say anything. The real fact is that the air is cleaner now than it was in 60’s.

    Your problem is you want government to solve every problem. Government has no competition, so they are the LEAST effective way to accomplish anything. If they throw away our tax dollars they don’t care. I live by the windmills. They are expensive, produce very little power, kill wildlife, don’t work in excessive heat or wind, and they blight the landscape.

    The private sector is capable of energy solutions without government intervention. There is a word for government control, but I’m sure you wouldn’t believe it.

    Posted by Diane | March 22, 2012, 12:42 pm
  4. Diane,

    A monopoly has no competition. As things stand now, Ameren has a virtual monoply on the production of retail electricity. The purpose of municipal aggregation is to open the retail market to competitive forces. Good Energy is simply a broker between private firms who will be bidding for the aggregation contract and private citizens who are pooling their electricty usage so that they can get a lower price. The government is simply facilitating the exchange.

    So, why are you arguing for monoploy and against open markets?

    Second, certain aspects of our air are cleaner now than the 1960s because of the Clean Air Act and enabling regulations enforced by the EPA. You can’t say the air is cleaner and then rail against the agent (government) that cleaned up the air. In addition, the Tea Party is doing everything it can to gut the EPA and undo the legislation that helped to clean up the air. If the Tea Party gets its way, we will return to the dirty air of the 1960s — also a time when our heavily polluted rivers actually caught on fire.


    P.S. I sense a lot of anger and pain on living near windmills. How close do you live and what problems have you encountered?

    Posted by Bill Rau | March 22, 2012, 3:22 pm
  5. the windmills are across the street from me. Noise pollution, red flashing lights at night, reflections during the day, what else you want to hear? I used to see deer running in the fields-they are gone.

    Ameren won’t have a monopoly. There are numerous other brokers in Illinois people can choose. Allowing government to lock in rates, not necessarily the lowest, gives people a false sense of security.

    Again you are sadly misinformed on us and the EPA. The EPA is now controlling lives of people with regulations. Recent Supreme court case about the EPA telling people they can’t build on their land, a large church on California the same thing. Farmers can’t store hay in the fields, but they fail to understand it catches fire when stored in a barn. This is the extreme short list.

    You are in favor of government socially and politically engineering the country. We aren’t. The people built this country, not the government. The government is incapable of making wise decisions, if you studied history you would know that. Socialism/Communism fails every time it is tried and millions of people have died because of it.

    Since you are already brainwashed with this kind of thinking, I’m done. Lots of Americans still believe in America and it’s freedom loving people. We don’t have time for the others.

    Posted by Diane | March 22, 2012, 4:14 pm
  6. In response to Diane:
    I disagree with the Tea Party’s version of a “free market” — a limited number of companies (oligopoly) yielding power against millions of powerless consumers. The unregulated market, when dominated by big business, serves big business and not us.

    In my view, municipal aggregation uses the market to benefit people. It involves a real negotiation of a price, whereas individuals alone can’t negotiate anything. State Farm and corporations do this – leverage their concentrated power in the market – why can’t consumers? Also, as stated before, individuals can opt out of the aggregated pool, preserving individual choice. There’s no reason why a grassroots movements of people shouldn’t pressure the government to do the right thing, in the face of intransigent business power that insists on making profits at the expense of people and the planet.

    Posted by coreymattson | March 22, 2012, 8:47 pm
  7. Diane,

    I am very sad to hear about your problems with a turbine sitting on your doorstep. I too would be upset and angry about the adverse effects you have experienced. I too can’t stand those blinking and blinkering red lights and wait for the day that there is a technolgical fix to the light pollution that this FAA requirement creates (to insure that a plane does not crash into a tower).

    In a just world you would be more than compensated for your losses. Unfortunately, we do not live in a just world.

    And most of all, I would lament the loss of deers. You have my complete support on these issues.

    What is the source of the problem? A private company, namely the wind farm owner, was allowed to place trubines much, much too close to private residences.

    And why did this happen? Because state and local governments failed to stipluate sufficent trubine setbacks from homes (other than those of farmers who want as many turbines as possible on their land [lease income]).

    This is a national problem. On a local, state, and federal level big money interests have bought off governments to get what they want. Everyone else suffers.


    Posted by Bill Rau | March 23, 2012, 3:26 am
  8. Decades ago, ComEd had a monopoly as a public utility. Same with phone service, natural gas, etc. The government managed the company and its profits were small but guaranteed. Service was Ok but costs were pretty high. Then we decided that monopolies in utilities were bad and unnecessary. A free market with choices for all consumers would be best. And it was so. The phone industry went bananas with innovation, cost savings and a wild array of choices. Electric utilities were slower to develop, probably due to the massive infrastructure investment required. So we unbundled the massive infrastructure of generation and delivery and, lo, there began to be competition. And it was good. The best, most free markets are where there are numerous buyers driving market demand and numerous sellers trying to serve that demand. That is what we have just recently achieved in most parts of IL. But someone didn’t like that and came up with municipal aggregation. Government just couldn’t be left out. Now they want us to move back toward a semi-monopoly situation where only a few companies will survive and it will be those chosen by the governments. Government will make the decisions and determine what we want, what we need, what we will get and what we will pay. Seems to me municipal aggregation is going backward. And the fact that it is optional now is just their way of nudging people to accept the upcoming socialization of energy markets under the UN’s sustainability treaty (aka Agenda 21). Sure, it’s a short term break on our bills but we sacrifice our power to make independent decisions in a free market in the future. The companies and the governments are loving it. Doesn’t that in and of itself give you pause?

    And I really couldn’t care less what they’re doing up north. They have a track record of ineffective and unethical government that is the laughingstock of the whole world now.

    “Sustainability” is a ruse; it has nothing to do with the environment. Look at countries worldwide. Which ones have the cleanest, greenest environments? Those with a history of free market capitalism and prosperity. The end.

    Posted by SilverSunlight | March 26, 2013, 5:47 pm
  9. The cost of coal is increasing because of EPA regulation meant to put them out of business. Do you realize that wind still needs fossil fuels since the wind isn’t always blowing? That makes coal even more polluting because it is efficient when generating at the highest possible output. So now it has to power up, power down, up again, down again. Enough?

    Posted by web staff | March 26, 2013, 6:04 pm
  10. The cost of coal is increasing because of EPA regulation meant to put them out of business. Do you realize that wind still needs fossil fuels since the wind isn’t always blowing? That makes coal even more polluting because it is efficient when generating at the highest possible output. So now it has to power up, power down, up again, down again. Enough?

    Posted by web staff | March 26, 2013, 6:06 pm
  11. I presume that ‘web Staff’ is Diane Benjamin. I deleted your comment advertising your blog. You can make comments here, no matter how absurd, but I consider your link advertising as spam.

    Posted by coreymattson | March 26, 2013, 6:46 pm

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