We had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Marty Moylan of Des Plaines a few weeks ago when we appeared on the WCPT’s Norman Goldman Radio Show. The mayor was kind enough to chat with me recently about his take on municipal electricity aggregation. (Here’s a hint… he’s not too keen on it. Go figure!) Here’s a quick summary of our conversation:
AH: As mayor of Des Plaines, you represent one of the communities that chose not to place a referendum on the March 20th ballot to aggregate the electricity of your residents. Can you tell me more about that?
MM: There were a few reasons: A while ago I received a letter from the attorney general instructing us to be careful about the companies that were offering this type of service—municipal aggregation. The other issue was that there were 8 or 9 different consultants and lobbyists that were trying to sell this process to me. They were saying negative things about one another and it made me concerned about the entire process.
I decided to just wait and see because right now you can go to the ICC and the CUB website and join with different providers right now. We feel that before we get all of the Des Plaines citizens involved in the process, we want make sure it works properly. Sometimes when things seem too good to be true, they are.
Plus, people need to be made aware that it’s just a portion of their bill. These things all need to be explained. We just want to get more information, wait and see, and make sure we protect our citizens. We’re being cautious.
AH: Do the communities receive any kind of payment for aggregating? What is really in for the municipalities? Seems like a lot of time and effort is required for little benefit –especially when residents can switch to an alternative supplier on their own.
MM: Some companies come in and say they will do all the work. Other companies say that the municipality has to put in a referendum and handle everything. Communities are not paid to participate. These consultants are all being paid by the suppliers, so we need to make sure we know what they are offering.
AH: How are the residents of your community responding to Des Plaines not being on the ballot?
MM: They have been asking about it for a while. Now, they can just go ahead and do it themselves. Each person has the right to choose their supplier now.
AH: Were you surprised that so many municipalities approved the referendum?
MM: Well, it’s really up to them. We’re doing what we believe is best for our citizens.
AH: Why do you think that municipal aggregation is too good to be true.
MM: It’s brand new; we have to see if it stands the test of time. Just waiting to hear more.
AH: What exactly do you think could go wrong?
MM: That’s what we’re going to find out. For example, if residents want to opt out, they might have to pay a $50 fee. There are lots of unknowns.
AH: We are exploring how to support opt-in programs for municipalities, where residents can still take advantage of deregulation and the inherent savings. What are your thoughts on this? Is this something that Des Plaines would be interested in providing to its residents?
MM: If someone asks, we are directing residents to find suppliers on their own. They can go to the Illinois Commerce Commission or the Citizens Utility Board.
AH: And to Power2Switch?
MM: Yes, they can also go to Power2Switch now, too. [Thanks Mayor Marty!]
AH: What are your thoughts on Smart Meters? Are you in favor of them?
MM: Oh yeah. Everyone needs smart meters. You can customize your home to use electricity when it’s cheaper. I’m a big fan of smart meters. They help monitor overall usage, too.
AH: I understand that you’re on the ballot for Illinois State Representative. If you’re elected, what would you like to accomplish on the energy front? What changes, if any, would you like to see take place?
MM: I’d like to expand the smart meter program — expand that to more areas. I’d like to work more closely with ComEd to enable them to be more efficient. Work with them in the city — work with them to get issues resolved promptly. They recently supported a generator program we started that allows residents to receive a credit for purchasing a portable generator, which can be used during an outage. We’re also working with ComEd on tree removal on properties, so the responsibility is divided equally between ComEd, Des Plaines, and the resident affected. In the past, the residents were entirely responsible for removal.
For the areas that are problematic –- we’re working with ComEd to fix those. You don’t get things done by yelling and screaming. We’re trying to build a better relationship with ComEd, in order to get the help we need to resolve issues quickly.
AH: Have you switched your electricity yet?
MM: I’m thinking about it. But I’m waiting. Want to make sure it works. I want to hear people say it works. I‘m cautious.
If you’ve switched and it’s “working” for you, please take a moment and drop us a note!
And best to luck to Mayor Marty on his bid for State Representative!