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Unincorporated Kane voters may get 2nd chance to OK electricity aggregation

GENEVA – Kane County voters living outside of cities and villages appear likely to get the chance next spring to vote themselves discounted electricity bills, if they give the county government the authority to negotiate with electricity providers on their behalf.

Thursday, the Kane County Board’s Energy and Environment Committee unanimously agreed to recommend the full County Board approve placing on the March 2014 primary election ballot a referendum asking voters whether the county can begin a so-called electricity aggregation program for most unincorporated areas of Kane.

The measure would cover unincorporated areas in most townships in the county, including St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Blackberry, Campton and Sugar Grove. Only Aurora and Dundee townships would be excluded, because they already enacted such aggregation proposals.

Mill Creek, which lies in unincorporated Geneva, Blackberry and Batavia townships, would be included in the referendum.

The measure will move next to the County Board’s Executive Committee for further consideration early next month. From there, it would move to the full County Board for a vote.

“I see this as a no-lose proposition for everybody,” said County Board member Kurt Kojzarek, R-Gilberts, chairman of the Energy and Environment Committee.

If placed on the ballot, as Kojzarek expects, the March election would mark the second time the question has been put to voters in unincorporated areas of Kane County.

In March 2012, voters narrowly defeated a similar referendum question, as the measure fell 207 votes short. Kojzarek said he believes voters would approve the measure now.

“I truly believe that back then, people just weren’t aware of the benefits,” he said.

In the past few years, several Kane County communities have approved such aggregation plans, essentially giving their local village or city governments the authority to negotiate for electricity service for the entire community, much as is done for curbside trash and recycling pickup service.

Early returns from those communities have indicated that residents saved as much as 25 percent to 30 percent off their electric bills after the aggregation programs were  instituted.

Should the aggregation question be approved, any residents who don’t want to participate would have the right to opt out of the program.

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