Downers Grove residents favored a proposal to allow the village to shop for electrical power on their behalf, by a margin of 5,558 to 3,454.
Approval of the March 20 referendum means the village will be able to negotiate for electrical power with suppliers on behalf of residential customers and small retail customers, without asking each customer individually. Group buying is expected to result in lower electrical bills for consumers.
According to the village's explanation of the proposal on its website, residential and small commercial customers will still be able to opt out of the new arrangement.
Following passage of the referendum, the village is required to hold two public hearings before adopting a "Plan of Governance." Then all the affected customers would receive a card in the mail telling them how to opt out, six to eight weeks before the program is supposed to start. After getting the notice, customers would have two to three weeks to respond and opt out, or about a month before the start of the program.
Customers who wouldn't automatically be included are those who have signed on with ComEd for real-time pricing, those who have entered into an individual contract with a power supplier, and those who use electricity for heating.
ComEd would continue to distribute power along its grid, sending out one bill to customers and responding to outages.
A change in state law in 2009 allows for municipal electrical aggregation. According to Crain's Chicago Business, more than 200 communities in Northern Illinois had the question on the March 20 ballot.