Is this still the People’s Republic of Oak Park?
The west suburb, known for its progressive bent, has struck a deal with Exelon Corp.’s Constellation unit to supply electricity to households and small businesses without including “green” power.
Constellation unseats Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services, which bid to keep the suburb. But Integrys’ offer was for 100 percent green power at a price of 7.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. That was 6 percent higher than Constellation’s price of 7.47 cents per kilowatt-hour, promising only the cheapest electrons available, whatever the source.
Like other municipalities that are discovering rising power prices, Oak Park’s electricity price is going up 29 percent from its current 5.79 cents per kilowatt-hour. Electricity accounts for about 60 percent of total electric bills, with ComEd delivery charges making up the rest.
Oak Park’s move was a departure from its past practice in which it had agreed on behalf of its residents to pay slightly higher electric bills in order to ensure that some portion of the money went to renewable energy producers. Oak Park’s current deal with Integrys, which expires in May, covers credits for wind farm owners and helps pay for landfill gas controls that lower carbon emissions.
Residents still will have the option to pay 0.1 cent-per-kilowatt-hour more for a green alternative from Constellation. But many suburbs that offer such options see very few acting on them.
“If (people) care about clean energy, it’s available to them,” Village President Anan Abu-Taleb said in an interview. “I know I will do it, for me and my family. This is really empowering the citizens and businesses to make the right choice for themselves without imposing my personal preference.”
Some on a fixed income, for example, just will want the cheapest rate available, he said.
The deal is another recent win for Chicago-based Exelon, which also owns Commonwealth Edison Co. Constellation, Exelon’s retail energy supply unit, recently wrested from Integrys the largest suburban power contract on the market—a consortium of northwest communities including Arlington Heights and Buffalo Grove.
Integrys supplies power to the city of Chicago.
At 7.47 cents, however, it’s not a slam dunk that Oak Park’s energy rate will be cheaper than that available from ComEd come this June, when ComEd’s rate will change. ComEd’s energy price will be known in mid-May and is expected to be something over 7 cents.
Chicago recently negotiated a deal that requires Integrys to match ComEd’s rate if it’s lower or send the city’s households and small businesses back to the utility. The Oak Park contract includes no such protection, but does allow individual customers to go back to ComEd on their own with no exit fee if the price is cheaper.
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