Woodford County Illinois, home of Eureka and other rural towns, is considering jumping on the electric aggregation bandwagon that is becoming increasingly popular in the state. Earlier this week, the Woodford County Board had a 7-to-5 vote to leave the decision up to residents.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Woodford County is home to almost 40,000 persons and over 2,300 businesses. Only those residents and businesses that reside in unincorporated areas and have Ameren or ComEd as their default utility will be included in the aggregation, if approved. Multiple retail electricity providers would bid for the new customers, and the county would choose a provider based on low rates and other incentives.

Electricity aggregation would allow residents and small-businesses to unite with each other in order to buy electricity in bulk at lower prices than their default utility’s rates. The practice is often beneficial, but sometimes misleading to electric customers:

Any individual or small business in deregulated areas of Illinois is able to shop around for the supply-side of electricity (utilities charge for distribution, no matter if they or another company supplies the electricity). Communities use aggregation agreements to provide non-shopping customers better rates, but this may discourage them from shopping around for providers with even lower rates as well as plans that better fit their needs.

The City of Chicago chose Integrys Energy Services as their retail electricity provider for their electric aggregation supply agreement back in December 2012. Since then, a number of providers have begun offering rates 4-12% below the Integry’s rate.

It’s not clear when aggregation will implemented if approved, but citizens will certainly have their say on April 9.