Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

September 5, 2012

Mason places energy issue on Nov. 6 ballot

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

MASON — It’s not just larger communities such as Effingham, Mattoon and Charleston that have jumped on the energy aggregation bandwagon.

    Mason is one of a host of smaller communities that have agreed to place the issue on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. And, Mayor Sandy Henderson said town officials plan to go door-to-door this fall in an effort to ensure the initiative passes.

    “We have a lot of low-income elderly people in our community,” said Henderson. “If we can get past the November ballot, we could save these people money.”

    In energy aggregation, governmental units band together to create a larger pool of customers, leading to cheaper energy prices, proponents say. In Mason, Henderson said the savings could be anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent.

    The Illinois General Assembly legalized energy aggregation last year. Governmental units had until Aug. 20 this year to approve placement for the initiative on the November ballot.

    Meanwhile, Henderson and other town officials have been attending a series of meetings in Effingham and Charleston to learn more about the concept. Henderson credits Effingham City Administrator Jim Arndt with making the concept easy to understand.

    “Jim has been very good about including us in meetings,” she said. “He has been very helpful to us.”

    Town Clerk Tina Moore and Trustee Vivian Cain also have been attending the regional meetings.

    Henderson said the Mason Town Board approved placing the energy aggregation issue on the Nov. 6 ballot. The next step, she said, is to sell the concept to town residents.

    “Hopefully, some of them have been reading news coverage of the issue,” she said. “We don’t want to get out there too soon, but we’ll start going door-to-door around the first of October.”

    Henderson said the town board chose New York-based Good Energy as a consultant leading into the election. Good Energy has advised a number of Illinois communities during the energy aggregation process. That, Henderson said, was what attracted Mason officials to the company.

    “It’s their record that led us to follow some of the other towns that are using Good Energy,” she said. “They follow up on their plans and are willing to help us get this passed.”

    Henderson said one problem is that not everybody in Mason is registered to vote.

    “We just need the ones who are to get out and vote,” she said.