Due to the company's customer service initiatives and positive feedback from fellow customer Oak Park, the River Forest village board unanimously approved an agreement last week with Integrys Energy Services, Inc. to become the village's alternative residential energy supplier.
Integrys was one of eight suppliers that responded to the village's request for proposals after voters approved a referendum in March allowing for energy aggregation. Aggregation lets the village buy blocks of energy from other sources at lower prices that were previously only available to large corporate consumers.
The village will have a three-year agreement with Integrys, but the energy supply price will only be a one-year term. Village Administrator Eric Palm said the village could opt-out if ComEd's prices turn out to be better next year, and staff is working with the company now to lock in a price. He said the goal is to have Integrys begin supplying the village by September.
River Forest currently contracts with Integrys for electricity at its water pumping station and has been pleased with the service so far. Last year, Oak Park approved a two-year agreement with the company to purchase aggregated energy through 100 percent renewable energy credits, or RECs, from wind and solar sources. Oak Park's sustainability manager K.C. Poulos said the program is expected to save at least $4.5 million over two years, and the first quarter reports showed it had already saved the village $888,000.
Palm said River Forest residents will be able to opt-in for RECs at an extra charge, but the details are still being worked out. He said the report of success from Oak Park was a factor in choosing Integrys. The toll-free number and website that the company will make available also helped their bid.
Trustee Michael Gibbs, a likely candidate for village president next spring, said he was impressed that Integrys will have brochures and a phone line specifically for River Foresters who want more information about the program. Gibbs added competition usually brings down rates, and the choice of providers gives residents another option.
"I see nothing but an advantage in an alternate supplier," said Trustee Cathy Adduci, another likely presidential candidate. Adduci said she'd opt-out of Integrys because she found another supplier about a year ago that costs about 20-25 percent less than ComEd. She was not present for the 5-0 vote on June 11.
Palm said once the price is determined in the coming weeks and ComEd is notified that they're switching, the village will send out notices with information about the program and how to opt out. He said the village would like to "take our time on this until we can get a pretty good price."