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WJBD - Local News - Southern Illinois Chambers Help Members Buy Electricity As A Group To Save Money

Rob Wielt of Associated Gas and Electric, the main speaker at Wednesday's Chamber Luncheon, and Bob Kelsheimer, Executive Director of the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Tim Ferguson.

Southern Illinois Chambers Help Members Buy Electricity As A Group To Save Money

By Tim Ferguson, WJBD News

Although most communities in the area have approved electric aggregation for residential use, aggregation for business is just becoming a reality. 

Rob Wielty of “Associated Gas and Electric” in Mt. Vernon, was at the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Wednesday to provide chamber members with information on how they could lower the electric bill of their businesses. 

Chamber Executive Director, Bob Kelsheimer, is backing the concept. “This is a unique program because we are combining our customer base with about 10 other Chambers of Commerce throughout Southern Illinois, and we are going to be getting a guaranteed maximum rate of 4.7 cents a kilowatt hour and this is about a 25% reduction off of what these customers are paying now if they’re an Ameren Illinois customer,” said Kelsheimer. 

He notes small and medium-size commercial customers have not had the benefits, until now, of getting significant savings on their electric rates. "Up until now small and medium-sized commercial customers really didn’t have the benefit of getting much savings because they were just that, too small to garner the same savings that the big industrials would.  But, by doing an aggragation program like this we are putting a great deal or great number of  businesses together large and small and they all benefit from a much lower rate,” said Kelsheimer.  

Various Chambers of Commerce throughout Southern Illinois from communities including Centralia, Salem, Carbondale, Marion, and counties such as Jefferson County are banding together to bring electric aggregation to their members by creating a “Bulk Electricity Buying Group” and Wielt’s company is bringing that together for them.   “You’re basically signing up with one of the companies we represent.  Your bills would come from the company.  Your business contract is with that company, but your relationship is with us because we are now your broker slash consultant.  At the end of your contract, the company that we had you sign with at that time may not be the best company for you to sign with,” said Wielt.  

To be eligible, a business must be a Chamber of Commerce member, be within the Ameren service territory and not be under contract with another retail supplier unless that contract is set to expire by December 31st.  For more information, businesses should contact the their local Chamber of Commerce.

 Kelsheimer did note that his office has fielded several phone calls from local residents complaining about receiving several phone calls reportedly from electric providers.  "You're going to be getting your discount just by living in the city, so they do not need to do anything.  If they don’t want to participate in that program, then they need to opt-out of the program, but they don’t need to do anything, and if anybody calls them, they can simply say ‘not interested, I’m already being taken care of in that regard’.” 

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