By Anna Lothson
Oak Park's commitment to green energy options was a theme once again at Monday's village board meeting.
One item on the agenda was the village's energy contract with Integrys Energy Services; Oak Park's chosen company for its community electrical aggregation program. The board approved a five-month contract extension with the group in order to maintain its competitive rates.
Craig Schuttenberg, Oak Park's consultant from Energy Choices, explained to the board that recent changes in rates affects community aggregation contracts and what size customers are able to buy in, but because Oak Park was the first suburban community to establish the program, it is able to extend its contract temporarily to keep its low rate.
Reports surfaced earlier this year about ComEd dropping its rates below that of Integrys, but Schuttenberg said ComEd's rate is still above the rate Oak Park was able to secure because of being first in the market.
"If you extend the contract at same rate you keep everyone in," he told trustees Monday. If the board had chosen to rebid its energy contract with another company, there are no guarantees it could secure the same rates. Because other energy rates are anticipated to go up soon, a five-month extension was as much as it could be extended at this point.
Schuttenberg also highlighted what he called a unique perk of teaming up with Integrys, which involved the company taking measures to convert methane that comes from landfills and convert it to carbon dioxide. Oak Park will also receive certifications verifying this effort on behalf of the community.
"It will provide carbon offsets," he said. "Every single resident in Oak Park would be carbon neutral."