Algonquin buying power in bulk to save money

ILLINOIS - It's getting pretty expensive to flip that switch to the "on" position.

That's why Algonquin this week joined a local energy cooperative, hoping to save the village government some of your tax dollars by buying electricity in bulk with other towns.

Algonquin now is part of the Northern Illinois Governmental Energy Cooperative, which includes Lake in the Hills, Huntley, Hampshire, Genoa, Johnsburg, Richmond and Woodstock.

As a cooperative, members research and compare energy prices from providers, then settle on one company, said Jack Walde, the village's finance director.

Once providers return with bids, the cooperative's attorneys review them, and the group decides on one company.

The beauty of joining a cooperative is sharing all costs with other members.

Last year, Algonquin picked up the tab when it inked a short-term deal with People's Energy for its own electric rates, Walde said.

Right now, the cooperative is in the midst of finding prices by June good for at least a year.

The figures the group eventually agrees upon are locked in throughout the contract, shielding members from price fluctuations, Walde said.

"With a fixed price, we can better estimate our cost and therefore do our budgets and so forth," he said.

For years, Algonquin was a ComEd town, but in 2007, when officials saw that People's Energy offered prices 30 percent lower, it jumped ship.

But ComEd will continue illuminating Algonquin's traffic signals, streetlights, village hall and public works buildings for free, thanks to a franchise agreement, Walde said.

The company that eventually signs with Algonquin will provide power for water and sewer services; in 2006, that cost $505,900.

Hopefully, the cooperative can save the village some dollars there.

"That's always your goal," Walde said. "We're just looking for an attractive electrical price."


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