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Morris plugs in with FirstEnergy for lower electricity rates

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 4:56 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 12:05 p.m. CDT

Starting at the beginning of next year, Morris residents will see a 30-percent savings on the energy portions of their electric bills thanks to the city's new Electrical Aggregation Opt-Out Program.

The city entered into a contract last week with FirstEnergy, Mayor Richard Kopczick said at Monday's regular council meeting. FirstEnergy offered the lowest bid for the city's energy supply. It will provide residents energy for 5.43 cents per kilowatt hour. Currently with ComEd, the rate is 7.76 cents per kilowatt hour. Commercial businesses will receive a 5.28-cents-per-kilowatt hour rate.

The city will have the rate locked from January 2012 to September 2013. Residents will start seeing the savings on their February bills, Kopczick said. At the end of the contract, the city will go for bid again.

If ComEd's rate goes below the city's new rate, FirstEnergy will either match the rate or automatically switch the city back to ComEd. If FirstEnergy was to go out of business, the city would also be switched back to ComEd.

"It's a 30-percent savings on energy ... not on your entire (electric) bill, just the energy portion," the mayor said. "They estimate at least a $200 annual savings."

Alderman Ken Sereno pointed out the $200 savings is equivalent to what residents are now paying a year for garbage. A garbage fee was implemented for the first time in 2010 after the garbage fund was depleted from the city paying for its residents' garbage.

Those who choose to participate in the energy-saving program will break even on their garbage costs, Kopczick added.

The Electrical Aggregation Opt-Out Program is for residential and small commercial businesses.

In April, a referendum passed to allow the city to take bids on electricity supply for the city’s residential and small commercial use. People will still receive their electricity bills from ComEd because ComEd will still be the distributor, but the city's power will now be supplied by FirstEnergy and distributed by ComEd.

The lower rate from FirstEnergy is an option for residents. If a resident would rather their electricity still be supplied by ComEd, they can opt-out of receiving their electricity supply from FirstEnergy.

Residents will receive two opportunities to opt-out. Just before the company change, a letter will come from the city asking if they want to opt-out. If they do want to opt-out, the resident needs to sign the letter and send it back. If they want the cheaper rate, they do nothing.

For those that do nothing, they will receive a second letter later from ComEd, which will ask again if they want to opt out, Kopczick said.

After receiving the new rate if a resident wants to go back to ComEd, they can still do so by calling to change. But a small business will have to pay a $50 fee to switch back to ComEd.
No door-to-door sales

Alderman Julian Houston made it clear that no one will be going door to door for the city's Electrical Aggregation Opt-Out Program.

"If someone comes to your door, turn them away," he said.

Morris police have recently received reports of solicitors going door to door to try and persuade residents to switch their electricity supplier. Kopczick reiterated these people have nothing to do with the city's program.

The police department put out a press release regarding the solicitors who do not have a permit.

"If a solicitor, who doesn’t possess a valid permit issued through the Morris Police Department, comes to anyone’s residence, they are violating the Morris Municipal Code and they can be issued a citation for such offense." according to the release.

When contacted by a solicitor at their residence, Morris Police suggest to ask to see their permit. If the solicitor can’t provide a valid permit, the resident can call the Morris Police Department at (815) 942-2131 to report such activity. 

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