Naperville Sucker-Punches Residents Again With Electric Rate Increase

It’s like an earthquake with constant after-shocks. A horrible decision by Naperville city officials to enter into an agreement as a member of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA) in 2007. At the time it seemed like a good idea to a few (city officials and council members), but others spoke up against the idea, only to be ridiculed, mocked, and chastised for not supporting what has turned out to be dreadful decision.

The decision for Naperville to purchase its power from IMEA’s Prairie State Energy Campus downstate has caused Naperville’s electric rates to skyrocket. Naperville is ten years into the devastating agreement (are you sitting down) with another 18 years to go. Yes, that’s until the year 2035. It appears a couple of downstate Illinois yahoo’s took the city slickers from Naperville behind the coal shed, sold them a bill of goods, locked them in to a 35 year contract, and sent them back to Naperville to extol the deal.  A bad deal indeed for the rate payers.

In 2014, electric rates were increased by 6%, followed by 7% in 2015, 8.3% in 2016, 3.6% this year, 3.6% next year, followed by another 17 years of hefty electric rate increases.

Mr. Keller will be at the tender age of 95 when this bad deal is over.

Fast forward to 2012 when the City of Naperville dragged electric rate payers into another bad deal, when city officials forcefully had Smart Meters installed on homes and businesses with the promise that rate payers would save money on their electric bills. To date, not one dime has been saved by anybody. My not-so-smart meter was installed January 24, 2013, and I have yet to see a penny’s worth of savings.

Two city council members involved in that fiasco are running for re-election; Judy Brodhead, and John Krummen. Brodhead was on the city council and voted ‘yes’ for the non-saving meters, and John Krummen was an ‘Ambassador’ for the meters. In other words, he was a mouthpiece telling the fine folks of Naperville how they would save money. A question each should be asked during their run for re-election is, “Regarding your support of smart-meters, where are the savings on our electric bills, that you clearly said would occur?”

Council members Krummen and Brodhead were either naive, or lied to rate payers, neither of which are favorable for re-election. Naperville deserves better.

Show 16 Comments


  1. Joe

    Judy voted for things that she has no idea and John thinks Catepiller should move into the Old Kmart ?????

  2. Mike

    At the Candidate Forum last Wednesday, Krummen, in his closing remarks, claimed $3 million in savings from the smart meters.

    He either continues to be naive or lying. As you said, either way…

  3. Gerard H Schilling

    A simple solution to this quagmire is to sell the damn thing to a utility who know how to run this kind of business instead of the incompetents that have created this problem(s).

  4. Jo Malik

    I guess he didn’t take advantage of the “let us control your thermostat and save $2.00 per month” option offered by naperville along with the smart meter. His bill would only be $228.00 per month. Thanks again naperville for “saving us so much money.”

  5. Jim Haselhorst

    What is the rate IMEA charges the city for the power it supplies? How much would it cost the city to purchase power on the open market from another vendor (like ComEd)? Without knowing these to piece of information how can any know whether these rate increased are do to problems with IMEA or simply the result of increased market demand and overall higher rates? And if you don’t know this information how can you be so sure getting out of the IMEA would save Naperville residents money?

    This article is short of essential facts but not on unsubstantiated accusations. This type of article is not surprising, however, given we are in the middle of an election cycle. It has become the normal to tar and feather incumbents in our society today and be hail as some kind of community activist or hero. And anyone that speaks out in support of incumbents is consider some type of pond scum.

    Fun how we can all be against bullying but no recognize it in our own behavior.

  6. Leiv Mealone

    Geez, J.H. ever hear of google?
    ***According to monthly invoices obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Naperville has been paying a monthly average of $75.04 a megawatt hour this year, for example.
    By contrast,
    ***Chicago pays about $56 a megawatt hour through a deal city officials negotiated after voters approved a proposal for bulk purchasing of electricity, or municipal aggregation. Many other communities have secured even cheaper rates.Naperville’s city manager, Doug Krieger, attributed the plant’s higher costs in part to mechanical problems that have sharply reduced its electrical output. Power agencies have been forced to buy electricity on the open market to make up the difference, even as they continue to pay off debt from building the plant.
    ***Naperville is paying the highest average rate of the five Chicago-area municipalities that buy electricity from the coal plant. Average rates for the other four are $73.62 a megawatt hour in St. Charles, $64.55 in Batavia and Geneva, and $55.24 in Winnetka, which gets credits for the use of a local power plant that helps meet demand.

    • Jim Haselhorst

      Yes I have, but googling articles that are 3 to 5 years old only provides more information on how Naperville’s Electrical Utility got in the financial situation it is in today. Not sure how you can hold anyone on the present council responsible for a decision voted on in 2007 and did not become a financial problem until 2012 when the plant went online. Two of these articles are from questionable sources (anti-Prairie State Activist Groups newsletters). And it is one of these from 2012 that you obtained your 2011 city rates from. I can just as easily counter the information in these questionable sources with one of my own.

      These 5 year old rate numbers are not new and provide no insight into what the current rates are. Their use for this purpose would be total speculative at best. For several reasons, first in 2011 when this plant went online it was operating at less then 50% capacity and experience operation issues that were driving up costs. Presently this facility is operating and 100% of capacity and has reduced it operational costs. Also by using onsite coal their cost of fuel has remained relatively flat over the last 5 years while the cost of gas has increase 50% on average with large cyclic fluctuations from $6 to $2 per MBTU.

      • Leiv Mealone

        Why don’t you call up your friendly neighborhood councilman/woman and ask them for the info. Maybe they will actually tell you without the need for a foia request. It doesn’t work for most people, but since you are a valiant defender of the council, maybe they will be more forthcoming with the info.

        • Jim Haselhorst

          As I have posted repeatedly, I actually pay electric bills for properties in neighboring communities, so I know what the comparative costs are and do not need this information to convince me that the Naperville Electric Utility is being managed to the benefit of city residents.

          Further I don’t have any special relationship with any of the city staff or official of Naperville so I would need an FOIA request to obtain this information. I would also need to do the same thing with neighboring cities to get the comparative information. All to obtain information that I have explained in other posts, would not be complete enough to make an accurate comparison.

          Naperville residents get their electricity from the city’s non-for-profit-tax exempt utility corporation while our neighbors get their power from ComEd a for-profit corporation which is taxed and adds these taxes to your bill after the “electric rate” charge. These taxes are consumption based (more you use, more taxes you pay). They also add other fees that are consumption based for things like environmental and conservation expense. So what each city pays per MWhr is not the whole story, you also need to now what other taxes and fees are being added to the bill after the electric charges.

  7. Kathy

    Sell the electric company, pay off the debt, and let customers enter the free market to purchase their own electricity. The electric company continues to hemorrhage millions of dollars in cash, despite all the back breaking rate increases. The “smart meter” fiasco and IMEA contract demonstrates that governments are inept to run business.

    • Bam! We have a winner.

      Makes way too much sense to ever happen. Plus very questionable that they could sell it. But don’t spend time on that. Let’s talk about bees instead.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        In the over 20 years I have lived in Naperville it has been suggested dozens of times and evaluated by the City a couple of times. In the end it turns out be be economically impractical (i.e. it would result in higher power cost for residents)

        The people still obsessing about the “Smart Meter Fiasco” are not just obsessively living in the passed but simple do not understand the National Smart Grid Initiative, which will eventually have every meter in this country be a smart meter. Aurora residents just had their old meters placed with smart meters, the notices they received gave them a time the meter would be replaced end of story. Naperville officials were smart enough to do this while there were still federal dollars available to help finance this change.

        The IMEA contract was signed in 2007 at the same time the Prairie State Facility started construction. It was construction of Prairie State that created the financial problems for IMEA and its now 33 member cities. The cost overruns and low initial output caused these cities to make millions in extra payments to IMEA in 2011 and 2012 (source of Naperville Electric Utility’s present debt). Prairie State construction was completed in 2012 and it’s power output is now at 100% of designed/planned capacity. Prairie State was never intended to provide 100% of IMEA members power needs and presently only provides 45% of these needs with the remainder coming for contracts with a wide spectrum of other power generators. It was always the intent of IMEA to pull together many cities in one entity to give them the buying/negotiating power of a large city like Chicago, which it has done well.

        • Kathy

          the electric company is loosing millions every year. Selling the electric company will pay off debt and let citizens choose their own electric provider. The so called budget breaking “smart meters” have never lived up to their hype, in fact, our electric rates have sky rocketed. Nape ille does not have the lowest rates.

          Naperville Electric needs to be sold, debt paid off and fiscal responsibility retuned to our great city.

          • Jim Haselhorst

            Please provide the source for your claim that the Electrical Utility is losing millions each year. This is the first time I have heard anyone make this claim and it directly contradicts the financial statements (publicly available and independently audited) for this Utility over the last 5 years. As I posted the present indebtedness of the Electrical Utility was incurred during the Prairie State construction in the 2012 and 2011 fiscal years.

            The smart meters did not break any budget and were in fact install within budget for this project which received funding from the federal government. Also if you were actually reading your electric bill you would have noticed you are being billed based on when you are using power. This is what the smart meters were installed to do and that the old analogy meters could not do.

            Please provide data to prove your claim that Naperville rates have sky rocket or in fact have even increased as a rate greater then before these meters were installed.

        • Kathy

          the electric company is loosing millions every year. Selling the electric company will pay off debt and let citizens choose their own electric provider. The so called budget breaking “smart meters” have never lived up to their hype, in fact, our electric rates have sky rocketed. Nape ille does not have the lowest rates.

          Naperville Electric needs to be sold, debt paid off and fiscal responsibility retuned to our great city.

          • Regarding the electric utility losing money: From page 14 of 2015 City of Naperville, Comprehensive Audited Financial Statements:

            Electric Utility – The Electric Utility recorded a net loss before capital fees of $6.8 million for the eight months ended December 31, 2015, compared to a $9.8 million net loss for the prior year.

            On April 1, 2014, City Council passed Ordinance 14-030 to increase electric rates by 6% to all customers on May 1, 2014 and 7% on May 1, 2015. The City conducted a rate study in early FY16 for the three-year period beginning January 1, 2016. City Council approved annual rate increases of 8.3%, 2.4%, 2.4% beginning in 2016, and each subsequent January 1st for two years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *