Going (down) from green to brown

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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At last Friday's 7:30 a.m. special meeting, five of my colleagues on the village board voted to abandon its commitment to choosing a green source for the Oak Park Energy Aggregation Program. In previous years, Oak Park opted out of using Commonwealth Edison as its energy supplier and chose to "aggregate" with an alternative supplier. Until Friday, all of this supplier's energy came from green sources or green energy credits. Over the past two years, the environment benefitted and Oak Park citizens saved almost $5 million.

The choice before the board on Friday was to continue with an all-green choice or select an energy supplier that does not use all green energy, otherwise known as "brown" energy. The cost for green was about $5 per month higher for the average household. 

The village staff, the village's paid energy consultant and the Environment and Energy Commission all recommended the green choice, despite the slightly higher cost. 

There are unintended consequences, and costs, that accompany a choice that appears to save each household about $5 — like the extra cost to heat or cool one's home based on climate change (think about this past winter), or the impact of a decreased buyers pool for green energy. However, five trustees changed public policy and voted for the "brown" provider. This dramatic change in policy direction occurred at a last-minute and poorly publicized meeting held at an unexpected time of day.

Oak Park was the first community in the nation to make an all-green energy choice and has been honored with awards and increased investments for doing so. It's true that this board, including me, has been rightfully committed to containing costs — even when the choices have been difficult. But the board also has a responsibility to set public policy based on ethical choices that advance the values of the village. Climate change is a real and serious threat. The world our children will inherit is at stake — and worth an investment of $5 per month. 

It is still possible to opt out and choose green as an individual. For those who feel remaining green is critical, make sure to look for the opt-out postcard in your pile of junk mail. As individuals, we can still choose green — but we can no longer be proud that as a community we are leading the way and demonstrating our environmental commitment through our investment in green energy.

Colette Lueck

Village trustee

Reader Comments

17 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

wikki wikki from oak park  

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 4:32 PM

sorry i meant 6:52am. yr mom.

spontaneous human catastrophe from oak park  

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 4:31 PM

6:26am YOUR MOM IS INAPPROPRIATE

Pride from Oak Park  

Posted: April 17th, 2014 7:18 AM

Trustee Lueck, Thank you for standing up for issues important to Oak Park. We are either Green or not Green, the constant drumbeat that we are Green while buying Brown is disingenuous and aggravating. This is a priority for the Village and deserves more than lip service, thank you for your dedication.

Gail Moran from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 9:10 PM

Thank you Colette for your principled and forward looking vote on this issue. And to those that talk about "dumb" energy, our prior provider has many renewable assets. Get the facts here: http://www.integrysenergy.com/ProductsServices/assets.aspx

Green  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 7:32 PM

Thank you to the staff for their hard work and comittment to Oak Parkers and to the future, and to Mr Salzman for updating us.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:20 PM

Thanks, Adam!!!!

Adam Salzman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:11 PM

Green Energy Update: Village staff has been successful in reaching an agreement with Constellation to promote an all green energy option to residents in addition to the main Constellation bid. When residents receive information about the Constellation brown plan, they will also receive information about a Constellation green option. That green option is cheaper than the Integrys bid.

John Murtagh  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 3:01 PM

The quality of OP government would be enhanced if the board members and other elected or appointed officials communicated more often with their constituents. That should include responses to questions and open discussion of items heading for the agenda. The Internet and powerful electronic devises have advanced speed in all of our daily activities. Government officials need to be leaders of the ongoing public dialog not occasional players in the community discussions.

Mimi Jordan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 2:40 PM

Rebecca, thanks. I should probably have known that already, regardless of whether the newspaper mentioned it! But it's the kind of basic facts of modern living that few seem to really know - or at least think about - anymore.

Kristen  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 2:16 PM

Thank you Trustee Lueck for getting it right.

Rebecca  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 1:52 PM

All energy suppliers put their electrons on the same grid. You can't store electricity in a tank. Once its generated it goes on the grid. The grid combined electrons from every source. Other than generating your own power by solar panels, the best you can do is to support the generation of green power by buying RECs.

Mimi Jordan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 12:31 PM

Bridgett, thanks for clarifying about RECs. Neither the WJ article nor the two trustees' letters to the editor make that clear. We were left with the impression that we were actually using "green" energy, i.e, our homes were being powered by solar or wind. I'm sure it was made clear at some point in the past, but would be nice to be reminded by the "paper of record" and our elected representatives!

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 12:20 PM

Green Oak Park, we've been using a "dumb" energy source for the last two years. The "green" option means that we have been paying for RECs (Renewable Energy Credits), to offset it. The purpose of agg., according the to Village of Oak Park website is that it "allows municipalities to seek alternate suppliers of electricity as a way to acquire lower rates for residents." We got lucky that the lowest rates, in the past, happened to be green. Let's not pat ourselves on the back too hard.

Selective? from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 9:21 AM

Mr Smith, Why aren't you writing similar comments about other Trustees who are writing letters to the editor on the same topic?

Adam Smith  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:52 AM

It is really inappropriate for an elected official to write a letter to the editor on a Board matter.

Green Oak Park from Oak Park  

Posted: April 16th, 2014 6:26 AM

Trustee Lueck got it right, and should be applauded. Not only did we previously receive national recognition for leadership related to renewable energy, infrastructure investment was to follow based on that leadership. The Smart Grid Pilot by ComEd came about because we had a green energy source. Now, with a 'dumb' energy source in a Smart Grid, we look kind of foolish. It made far more sense to purchase green, and provide a 'brown' opt-out. Sad to see the majority reverse sound public policy.

mememine69 from London  

Posted: April 15th, 2014 10:28 PM

Former climate change believers know science has been 95% certain for 32 years. Know YOU know. Get ahead of the curve; *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians. *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

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