By a 8,707-5,928 vote, Will County voters shot down a measure that would have let the county shop around on their behalf for better electricity prices.
The electrical aggregation measure could have meant cheaper power bills for small businesses in unincorporated Will County and the nearly 105,000 residents. Similar referenda in Mokena, Frankfort and other towns passed.
"From the very beginning the choice was up to the voters," Will County board spokesman Nate Brown said Tuesday night. "We respect their decision for the board to work on other issues besides electrical aggregation. The board will continue to look for other ways to put money back in the pockets of Will County residents."
Earlier this month, Brown said the next steps would have been two mandated public hearings for late March or April. He hoped the county could have gone out to bid for the new power suppliers by early May.
Despite education efforts including a video with Will County officials and mayors, some voters remained unaware of the referendum and what it entails.
Voter Peter Hudson, 43, who lives near Mokena, said he did not know about the referendum until he saw his ballot. He voted no.
"I just thought it was important that the people have the opportunity to choose their own electricity," he said, despite the fact the referendum still lets people choose their own electricity.
A measure passed last year by the state Legislature will let municipalities and counties negotiate for better rates from the power companies on behalf of their residents and small businesses. They just need permission from the voters, permission given by voters on Tuesday.
ComEd would still get the juice to your house and the bill will still come from ComEd. The electricity could just come from a different supplier than the one ComEd chose.
Residents and business owners can already and still will be able to find their own cheaper rates. The Citizens Utility Board and the Illinois Commerce Commission offer resources for residents to do this online.