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Palos Hills in wrestling match with environment versus money decisions

  • Written by Kelly White

Environment?
  Saving money?
  Environment?
  Saving money?
  That’s a decision Palos Hills alderman are chewing over when it comes to bringing in an electrical supplier.
  “We need to be more concerned about environmental issues,” one Palos Hills city alderman stated at Thursday night’s City Council Meeting.
  Referring to possibly choosing a predominantly coal-burning electrical supplier, Alderman Joan Knox (1st Ward) stressed the importance harming the environment has over “saving a couple dollars monthly per household”.
  “Is our intent to get the lowest price out there or for us to look at the environmental issues?” Alderman Martin Kleefisch (1st Ward) asked. “I do believe that what we do has an impact on global warming. We are only one community with one bid, but we can make a difference in our town with our choice to bid more cautiously.”
  Knox would not give a certain percent in which she felt was acceptable in a company using coal-burning energy; however she urged to move away from using coal as a provider of electrical energy as much as possible.
  “We need to worry about the environment,” she said. “One of the biggest problems with coal is the amount of water it wastes.”
  Palos Hills’ two-year contract with First Energy Solutions, with a locked-in rate of 4.74 cents per kilowatt hour, is set to expire this July. Northern Illinois Electrical Collaborative went out to receive new electrical bids two weeks ago for the city and at the March 27th Committee Meeting, Mayor Jerry Bennett presented several bids to discuss among the city council members, including a bid from Homefield Engery. Out of the six new bids received, Homefield Energy came in the lowest with a rate of 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour. At the time, Bennett and the city council were content with that bid.
  But at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Knox telephoned Bennett with a discovery and what she felt was a major concern. Upon reviewing Homefield Energy’s contractual agreement, she noticed 64 percent of its energy derives from coal-fired power. Bennett said he was unaware of this and decided to wait until the City Council Meeting last Thursday to discuss this further with the rest of the city alderman before having N.I.M.E.C. go out to obtain more bids. Bennett made city alderman and residents aware rates will change now from what N.I.M.E.C. received the previous week.
  Knox pointed out the next highest bid received was not from a predominately coal-burning energy source and they presented a bid with a rate of 7.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
  “We are talking about a couple bucks a month per household here,” she said. “I hope that people will look at the big picture over price and do the right thing.”
  Some alderman disagreed with Knox and said saving money took priority over underlying environmental issues.
  “The middle-class people I represent are concerned with one thing and that’s price,” Alderman Ricky Moore (4th Ward) said.
  “If residents are concerned about the pollution aspect of a certain supplier, they always have the option to opt into the green energy choice that is available within every contract,” Alderman Frank Williams (5th Ward) added. Although the renewable energy option was also available with the two-year contract with First Energy Solutions, only nine out of nearly 6,900 residents opted into that portion of the program.