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Ecology Action Center urges caution in electricity provider choice

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The Ecology Action Center is urging Bloomington-Normal residents to look carefully at the data before making a choice on whether to opt out of the city and town negotiated electricity rate for the next three years.

Ameren Illinois has published its new rate structure, taking effect over the next several years, and it will be higher than the charge for electricity negotiated by the City of Bloomington and Town of Normal in that recent three-year deal.

The city and town agreements caps the rate at under 8 cents per kilowatt hour for the term of the contract. The Ameren rate is currently lower. But starting June 1, the Ecology Action Center said Ameren's rate will rise to more than 9 cents per kilowatt hour and go up another couple of cents in October.

"The Ameren rate will more than double over the next two years," said center director Michael Brown.

Brown said some residents are wary of the now 10-year old Municipal Electricity Aggregation program in Normal and Bloomington and are deciding to opt-out this time.

"There is a lot of distrust in government out there and people should carefully review the facts," said Brown.

Regional electricity generating capacity was underestimated last year, and now costs are rising as a result of increased electricity demand as pandemic restrictions ease, combined with a decrease in generation and other market influences, including inflation and the war in Ukraine.

The rise in Ameren rates represents the increased wholesale price of electricity, said the center.

Renewable energy development is increasing, but is only partially weighted in the capacity market, and more coal-fired plants are going offline, creating further price pressure.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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