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Kane must wait on electricity savings vote

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 7:15 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County residents will not get the chance to vote on reduced electrical bills this year, after the county government was unsuccessful in obtaining approval from the state to place the matter on the April ballot.

Last month, the Kane County Board had supported plans to place a referendum question on the ballot for the April municipal elections that would ask voters to give Kane County the ability to contract for electrical services on behalf of those who live in unincorporated areas of the county.

Kane voters narrowly defeated a similar referendum question on electricity aggregation in March.

That measure failed by 207 votes, despite no organized opposition forming to the ballot question.

County officials believed that if the question were posed again to voters that it would be approved, as a number of local cities and villages, including Elburn, Sugar Grove, South Elgin, Campton HIlls, Maple Park, Aurora and North Aurora, have begun electrical aggregation programs, saving their residents 25 percent to 30 percent on their electricity bills.

The programs allow municipal governments to negotiate electricity rates on behalf of their residents in the same way the local governments secure curbside trash collection. County officials believed such real-world results would tip the balance in favor of approval of the measure.

However, under state law, ballot questions that fail at referendum cannot be resubmitted to voters for at least two years.

So, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, who also served as a state senator until the end of the last session of the Illinois General Assembly on Tuesday, had introduced legislation that would exempt Kane County from that requirement and allow the county to reintroduce the aggregation question in April.

While the measure was poised to pass the Illinois State Senate, the Illinois House adjourned before the measure could be acted upon there, Lauzen said.

He said the county will now wait until the March 2014 primary election to bring the matter back to the voters.

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