Hey, Environmental Division! Are There REALLY Environmental Benefits to Electric Aggregation?

Hey, Environmental Division! Are There REALLY Environmental Benefits to Electric Aggregation?

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Sure, electric aggregation is going to save money for folks in unincorporated areas of Kane County, but how exactly is that going to help the environment? Huh? Answer me that, Mr. or Ms. Bigshot Environmental & Water Resources Department Person!

Well, once again, we’re glad you asked.

Although electric aggregation is not considered an “environmental program,” per se, Kane County’s program does give residents an option to go green.

“Absolutely, the main purpose of the electric aggregation program is to save money for residents and small businesses in unincorporated Kane County,” Division Director Ken Anderson said. “A side bonus is that the program gives residents a choice to purchase 100 percent renewable energy — but again, that is entirely the customer’s choice.”

Electric aggregation is defined as “a method by which municipal or county governments can enter into electricity purchasing agreements on behalf of consumers within their jurisdiction.”

In 2009, an amendment to Section 1-92 of the Illinois Power Agency Act enabled municipalities to pool together or “aggregate” resident and small commercial electric loads in order to negotiate for the purchase of the combined electric supply of its residents and eligible small businesses. Kane County Environmental Division staff and the County Board’s Energy and Environmental Committee recognized that the electric aggregation program presented an opportunity to also offer renewable energy options for participants in the program.

Kane County sent letters to unincorporated residents and businesses in June explaining the new program and providing information on  the program that starts in August.

Under the agreement with Dynegy, residents and small businesses will automatically receive traditional power unless they decide that they would prefer green energy and they contact Dynegy to enroll in the 100 percent renewable energy option at a slightly higher rate.

The majority of Dynegy’s electricity is produced by coal-fired plants and nuclear plants. (See Dynegy’s Environmental Disclosure.) The “traditional” power supply offered by Dynegy Energy provides a minimum of 10 percent renewable energy sources, per Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard. The Illinois Commerce Commission retains oversight of compliance with the RPS. Any renewable sources Dynegy does not generate to achieve that required 10 percent is purchased from the marketplace, just in the same way the Illinois Power Agency purchases Renewable Energy Credits for those receiving the default ComEd supply service.

If participants in Kane County’s electric aggregation program want to support renewable energy because of the environmental benefits, the opportunity is there for them.

“With Dynegy’s pricing under Kane County’s electric aggregation program, it will only cost a fraction of a cent more to support the renewable energy market,” Resource Management Coordinator Cecilia Govrik said. “This equates to about $30 more a year for an average household in unincorporated Kane County — which is a small expense for people who want green energy in their homes and are willing to pay a little more for it.”

For more information on Kane County’s electric aggregation program, please visit this page.

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