City Awards Electricity Contract
In December 2011, the non-partisan organization Public Campaign criticized Integrys Energy Group for spending $0.71 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008-2010, instead getting $92 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of $818 million, and increasing executive pay by 109% to $14.8 million in 2010 for its top 5 executives.
Attention: Aldermen, City of Chicago
Position Paper: Electricity Aggregation Ordinance
The grassroots citizen group Illinois Coalition to Protect the Public Commons (ICPPC) hereby express our deep concern that a rushed process is occurring regarding both the vote on Chicago's Electricity Aggregation Ordinance and the vote on the proposed contract with Integrys Energy Group, Inc. The rush to vote is reminiscent of the past parking meter fiasco which we, as citizens of Chicago, do not wish to repeat.
We urge you and other members of the City Council to slow down the decision making process and allow adequate time for deliberate consideration by the City Council and for citizen review and input. The Council and the public should be given a minimum of another week to look at the ordinance before voting on it and be given additional time to examine the contract.
Another concern is the manner in which the contract is being advanced. A vote on the ordinance governing the approval of contracts should precede the discussion of the contract, with adequate time allowed to consider both.
Regarding the electricity contract with Integrys, while we applaud the elimination of electricity sourced from coal, we feel that using electricity sourced from gas that is produced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is not environmentally sound but instead poses serious risks. Fracking has been shown to contaminate aquifers, poison wells, ruin agricultural land, and seriously harm human, animals and plants. Each fracked well contaminates millions of gallons of water and removes that water from future use. Fracking releases methane gas into the environment and is a significant contributor to global warming. We urge you to press for a prohibition on the purchase of electricity sourced from fracked gas.
We also seek a specified progressive increase in the required ratio of renewable energy. Currently only 3% of electricity in the Chicago area comes from renewables. A city the size of Chicago should warrant a higher standard and set a model for the nation for moving more quickly to renewable energy sources.
Although we applaud the City for being concerned about the cost of electricity to the residents of Chicago, bargaining for the absolutely lowest price might not be in the best long-term interest of our city, state and nation. When all the environmental and health effects of electricity generation are factored into the equation, renewable energy is the most cost beneficial investment that we can make at this time.
One more point to be considered is that, instead of promoting a free market and competition to benefit consumers, the proposed contract with Integrys Energy Groups, Inc., a subsidiary of Peoples Gas, creates a monopoly in Chicago by putting more energy under the control of one corporation.
We will be examining the final Electricity Aggregation Ordinance when it becomes public. We understand that the Mayor's office has made some beneficial concessions to concerns from some of the Aldermen. Please do not vote for the ordinance unless those concessions are included. One very important concession that we have learned of is that the Aldermen will have the right to vote on all future electricity contracts and on any changes to the contracts. This is of utmost importance.
In summary, we urge you to delay the vote on the contract with Integrys Energy Group, Inc. and to give additional time for deliberate consideration to the Electricity Aggregation Ordinance.
We will be happy to discuss this issue with you further, you may call any of the phone numbers below for clarification of our positions.