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Lee County delays action on referendum

Issue could mean lower electricity rates

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 12:05 a.m. CDT

DIXON – Lee County voters in March rejected a referendum that would have given the county the power to negotiate for lower electricity prices.

Now, the County Board is considering putting the issue before voters again.

The problem: Who would vote on the referendum?

Under the current proposal, the question would go to voters in the county’s unincorporated areas.

However, it’s unclear how that would apply to the unincorporated areas of Palmyra and Willow Creek townships, where voters decided in November to give their township governments the power to negotiate rates.

County Clerk Cathy Myers, the county’s top elections official, said she needed direction on how to prepare the ballots. 

At a meeting Tuesday, the County Board was expected to decide whether to put the issue on the April 9 ballot, but officials delayed the decision until January, when they will have more information.

County Board members said they would consult with the state’s attorney. 

Around the Sauk Valley, towns have adopted referendums to give their local governments power to negotiate rates – a process known as municipal aggregation. Those towns include Sterling, Morrison and Amboy, where residents now have dramatically lower rates than what they had with ComEd.

Dixon voters twice rejected the referendum, but the City Council voted Monday to give it another try in the April election. Whiteside County voters also will decide at that time.

Rock Falls has a municipal electric utility, so aggregation doesn't apply.

Fulton was the first town in the state to approve the referendum. Chicago was later than most, adopting it in November.

Under aggregation, ComEd still maintains the distribution system and handles the billing.

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