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Local

Voters OK electricity referendum

City, counties can negotiate for lower rates

DIXON – Dixon voters on Tuesday approved giving its city government the power to negotiate for lower electricity rates.

So did voters in the unincorporated areas of Lee and Whiteside counties and the village of Lee, in far eastern Lee County.

In two previous elections, Dixon voters twice rejected giving the city the power over negotiating rates – known as municipal aggregation.

In Tuesday’s election, 1,377 voters in Dixon, or 57 percent, voted for aggregation, while 1,042 were against.

In Lee County’s unincorporated areas, aggregation barely passed with 1,476 votes, or 51 percent, to 1,408 against.

In Whiteside County’s unincorporated areas, a commanding majority of 1,739 votes, or 62 percent, supported aggregation, while 1,046 opposed it.

In November 2010, Fulton was the first community in the state to approve “municipal aggregation.” Many others have done so since, including Morrison and Sterling.

When Morrison officials chose the low bidder for electricity, they said the average household would see a $26-a-month drop in its power bills. Sterling residents got similar savings.

Earlier this year, Sauk Valley Media compared an electric bill for about 900 kilowatt hours in Sterling with one in Rock Falls. The Sterling bill was 27 percent lower.

Sterling now gets its power from Akron, Ohio-based First Energy; Rock Falls has a municipal utility.

ComEd, the electric utility in northern Illinois, makes money from its distribution system, not the power itself. So it doesn’t lose out when communities switch to new providers.

In Dixon, voters rejected the referendum the first time in April 2011. In that election, Mayor Jim Burke, an aggregation supporter, was challenged for re-election by Bob Gibler, who argued against municipal aggregation.

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