Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

February 26, 2013

Small towns join together in energy aggregation pursuit

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

ST. ELMO — Watson, St. Elmo, Brownstown and Kinmundy are taking steps to join the energy aggregation bandwagon.

Those four small communities are joining 24 other entities to the south as part of an effort spearheaded by Mount Vernon-based Affordable Gas & Electric. AG&E is owned by Effingham native Jeff Haarmann and Watson resident Gary Niebrugge.

AG&E is serving as a consultant to entities seeking to offer energy aggregation on the April 9 consolidated election ballot. Haarmann said once the measure passes Ñ and similar measures have Ñ then electric suppliers can bid for the right to offer electric service to residents of the aggregate group.

Other communities in the AG&E group include Mount Vernon, Ina, Bluford, Dix, Waltonville, Woodlawn, Bonnie, Belle Rive, Nashville, Ashley, New Minden, Okawville, Oakdale, Central City, Junction City, Odin, Iuka, Patoka, Sandoval, Lawrenceville, Grayville and Crossville. The group also includes unincorporated sections of Jefferson and Washington counties.

A number of entities in Effingham and Coles counties passed similar referenda in the general election last fall.

While some consultants have said aggregation can chop the typical household electric bill by more than a third, Haarmann prefers a more conservative estimate.

"We're telling people they could save 20 percent on their electric bills," Haarmann said.

Haarmann said AG&E is scheduling a number of gatherings with church and civic organizations throughout the proposed aggregation area. One of those gatherings is this afternoon in St. Elmo.

"I think we're all pretty excited about the benefits our citizens are going to realize," said St. Elmo Mayor Larry Tish. "Anytime we can save our citizens a dollar or two is something we should take advantage of.

"It's tough to find anything negative about it," Tish added.

The St. Elmo informational meeting is set for 4 p.m. in the city's Phillips Building.

Companies that Haarmann says intend to bid on the aggregate group include Ameren Energy Marketing, Constellation Energy, First Energy Solutions, AEP Energy and Energy.ME.

For more information, potential customers are encouraged to call 618-207-3450, or visit www.AffordableElectricRates.com. The company also has a Facebook page entitled AffordableElectricRates.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.