By Ellie Dimitrova for SUST 210
When it comes to choosing an energy provider, a recent news article in the Daily Herald notes that Illinois residents now have options. This is exactly what residents of some Northwest Suburbs of Chicago are finding out. Residents of Palatine, in particular, are looking to switch from Commonwealth Edison (or commonly known as ComEd, the largest electric utility in Illinois) to an alternate energy supplier.
At an informational meeting about choosing energy suppliers wisely at the Palatine Public Library, representative of the Sierra Club of Northwest Cook County advised suburban area residents to consider “going green” and pressure their community leaders to choose environmentally-friendly energy suppliers.
The benefits of solar and wind energy were extolled by Lesley McCain, Midwest Director of Development for Community Energy, Inc. Her company’s electricity plan is called RE-Power Illinois and it uses 100 percent wind and solar sources, which she called “the greenest supply there is.”
In January 2007, the state of Illinois concluded a ten-year process of deregulating its electricity market. Keeping the market deregulated is the first step to ensure competitive rates for electricity. Generally, free markets serve consumers better than regulated markets.
McCain also said that in 2011, 20 suburban communities opted for electrical aggregation, which was made possible by state deregulation, and 154 towns have referendums on the March ballot on the issue. The article also points out that not just Palatine but other towns such as Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Vernon Hills and Wheeling are also seeking to switch from ComEd to an alternative energy supplier. Together, the towns will negotiate better rates if a majority of voters favor energy aggregation in the March referendum.
Residents could pick their own energy supplier from a list of about 20. Residents could also visit http://pluginillinois.org, which is a very informative website that offers alternative to aggregation and the option to sign up for a cheaper energy supply rate. It answers questions that residents might have about switching as well as guides residents on the step-by-step switching process. Peter Gorr, a Palatine resident and executive committee member of the Sierra Club of Northwest Cook County, urges residents to consider whether the energy comes from coal, nuclear, oil and gas or cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar power. Two other factors to consider would be environmental and health effects.
Residents should definitely consider switching to greener energy sources, especially because they now have the power to do so. However, they must first evaluate their options and then decide as a group as to which energy sources would be best. Now is a better time than ever to make the switch.
Submitted 9 March 2012