Chicago aldermen advance electrical aggregation referendum

June 22, 2012

Chicago aldermen are pushing forward with a plan that could allow the city to negotiate electricity rates on behalf of residents. The measure unanimously passed a City Council committee Friday. The referendum would let voters decide whether Chicago should negotiate a city-wide group rate for its residents with companies other than ComEd.

Alderman Ed Burke (14th) said that kind of bulk purchasing power would make residential electric bills cheaper.

"I'd like to know what, uh, is bad about this. It just sounds too good to be true," Burke said. "But at least the voters can have an opportunity to tell us whether or not they want us to explore the issue."

But Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) said there's still the question of exactly who would do the haggling with electric companies.

"But I think the devil's gonna be in the detail - making sure this council has sign off on that, or is a part of that process, I think is gonna be very important," he said.

The process still has a way to go. The ballot question would need approval from the full City Council in order to appear on November's ballot. If voters approve it, the City Council would likely have to approve an ordinance detailing exactly how the city would go about the utility negotiations.