Charged Up

After a recent city council vote, residents will see about a five-dollar increase to their electric bills starting next month.

Council narrowly voted to raise electric rates 6 percent this May and 7 percent next May, to help combat a $14 million deficit in the city owned electric utility.

“6 percent in the first year is still a loss but 7 percent in the second year puts us in a positive cash position,” explained Councilman Steve Chirico. “It doesn’t allow us to regain all the money after year two, but it makes a pretty big dent on it.”

The city buys its power from the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA), of which it’s a stockholder.

Due to issues with IMEA’s Prairie State coal plant, Naperville, the biggest customer, is expected to foot about a $50 million bill.

So what does this all mean for you, the residents?

The average residential user who pays $92.79 a month will pay $97.69 starting next month, and $103.75 next spring. But, even with the increase, officials noted Naperville’s residential rates will still be lower than ComEd.

“I don’t want to be the best at the lowest rate increase; I would prefer we had our rates in the other direction,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “But, this is the industry this is the world in which we live in, when it comes to rates on the electrical residential market.”

The passed increases are projected to decrease the utility’s deficit to $5.2 million by April 2016.

Also in a separate vote, the council approved a loan of up to $19 million from either the water utility or vehicle replacement fund to the electric utility in the meantime, which will be paid back at 2.7 percent interest. But, the issue isn’t over. The council also agreed the city needs re-examine IMEA.

“What I’m contending is we don’t have to consider that an iron clad obligation,” said Councilman Robert Fieseler. “Yes, we should pay what we agreed to pay, but I don’t think we agreed to pay what IMEA is doing right now.”

Public Utilities Advisory Board Chairman John Krummen spoke to the council saying that board wants to look further into IMEA and Prairie State.

“Still not adequately investigated, what were the construction costs and why were they $1 billion over, 10 months late and running at 60 percent,” said Krummen. “We don’t know why. Are they explainable, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. That’s our focus.”

The council extended an invitation for someone from the PUAB to attend their meetings with IMEA to better stay informed in the future.

The council also approved $17.34 million in general obligation bonds to help fund the city’s $54 million capital improvement program for next year.

This means a homeowner with a $375,000 house will pay about $14 toward the new tax levy this year.

The City of Naperville also announced the departure of their top attorney, Margo Ely.

Ely has spent the past 20 years with the city, most recently as the Director of Human Resources, Legal, and Risk Management.

Ely is leaving to become the new Executive Director of The Intergovernmental Risk Management Agency.

No information has been released about the process of finding Ely’s successor.

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