The days of cheap, 100 percent green power are coming to a close in Oak Park with a decision by the village board of trustees Friday.
The board has used an energy aggregation scheme since 2011, making energy prices about a quarter cheaper than ComEd's rate, and using solely green energy options—a move that saved Oak Park consumers more than $4 million. But ComEd energy rates are about to change in June, and energy aggregation rates will change with them.
The village put the aggregation program out to a public bid last week and received two bids from renewable energy companies and one from the so-called "brown energy" or non-renewable energy company, Constellation.
Board members chose the brown energy option, which will save the average consumer about $5 a month. The non-green option came in at 7.47 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to the higher green energy bids of 7.9 cents and 8.59 cents.
Oak Parkers currently pay about 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour through energy supplier Integrys. Emmett George with Energy Choices, an energy consultant to the village, said he suspects the ComEd rate, will wind up somewhere between 7 cent and 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Trustee Peter Barber said green power was "absolutely a great idea when it came along … because everything was cheaper."
Barber added, however, that, "Citizens are tired of paying what it costs to live in this village, and if we don't start to address that, I don't think we're doing our job as a board."
Trustee Colette Lueck, the only vote against the brown energy option, said environmentalism is an important value for Oak Park residents.
"I know that in Oak Park, also, green is very important to a lot of people, and they would pay the $5 to have the green," she said.
Residents will still have the option to purchase all-green power by choosing their own power supplier, but they must opt-in to the program.
George noted, however, that consumers frequently do not take the extra step to go beyond the default option. He noted that in an opt-in program run by Energy Choices for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, an organization representing suburban municipalities, fewer than 10 percent of consumers participated.
"It was a matter of just not taking action," he told village trustees.
Village President Anan Abu-Taleb said he supports the cheaper non-renewable option because consumers can still choose the green option.
"We put the people on the controlling seat and give them a choice," he said, adding, "On a personal preference, I'm going to go green, but I thank God we live in a country where people can have choices."
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said the village will establish a public awareness campaign to make residents aware that they still have the green option.
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