The numbers are in and roughly 9 percent of households in Oak Park opted into a renewable energy aggregation plan and rejected the village's decision to make brown energy – derived from fossil fuels – the default option.
But almost 4 percent of households chose neither, opting out of the aggregation scheme entirely and either defaulting to the ComEd rate of 7.6 cents per kilowatt-hour or choosing their own electric supplier, according to information from the village.
David Powers, village spokesperson, said the Illinois Commerce Commission's website known as pluginillinois.org, compiles the names and information of every energy supplier available to residents of Illinois.
"Some may say I'm going to find a better deal on my own," Powers said.
And some residents say they did find a better deal than the 7.47 cents per kilowatt-hour Oak Parkers will pay under the brown energy default options as well as the 7.57 cents per kilowatt-hour they will pay for green energy.
Both of the aggregation options are provided by Constellation Energy, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp.
Oak Park resident David Gulbransen, who works as an IT director for the University of Chicago School of Law, said that at the commerce commission website he found "there were a ton of options, brown or green, that beat the village's price."
"That got me riled up," he said.
He said that some plans offer variable rates and introductory offers, but those frequently include termination fees. Gulbransen went with a 100 percent renewable energy plan offered by Ethical Electric, paying 6.72 cents per kilowatt-hour.
He said the plan has a fixed rate for the first three months and then switches to a variable rate. Gulbransen said the plan does not include termination fees, so if the rate skyrockets, he can easily switch to another provider.
"It's a fixed rate for three months, which takes me through the summer; I don't have electric heat, so my energy consumption in the winter goes way down," he said.
Gulbransen said he believes the village got a bad deal going with Constellation.
"I find it kind of troubling that the village wasn't able to negotiate a better rate for delivering 22,000 residents for a plan (residents) could have opted into on their own," he said.
Oak Parker Joel Schoenmeyer, a trust attorney for Northern Trust Co., said he chose to go with the provider of his choice because, he felt like the village did not provide information that there was a third option.
"The reason on the table for me is I don't like being told what to do," he said. "I felt like people kept telling me, 'You have to go green and here are your two options.'"
Schoenmeyer chose neither green energy nor brown, but a combination of the two.
He went with a company called North American Power, which provides an option that is 25 percent green and 75 percent brown. The cost also was less than the village's aggregation options at 5.99 cents per kilowatt-hour.
"I looked into it, and I thought this makes a lot more sense," he said.
He said choosing his own energy provider took about 45 minutes, which involved researching the companies and making a short phone call.
"I like more choice, and if anything there should have been an emphasis (from the village) that you can do green, brown or other," he said. "That so many people did it indicates to me that it's not the most difficult thing in the world to do that analysis."
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