Rockford Register Star asked the question: When it comes to municipal electrical aggregation, what’s in it for the city?

City brokers deal with other municipalities, lands nearly $20 million in savings for area customers, hands over thousands of accounts and gets nothing in return?

Rockford’s Central Services Manager Carrie Eklund says that’s exactly what the city did when it decided to waive an administrative fee, a small amount that would be added onto everyone’s bill and funneled back to the city.

The state’s new electrical aggregation law allows cities to do it, Eklund said, and some have. But not Rockford.

“We are getting no compensation from this whatsoever,” she said. “The option was there, and we chose not to use it. We wanted to pass along all of the savings to our residents and small businesses.”

“Fee?” We need to get our terms straight. A city accepting a so-called “administrative fee” could reasonably be suspected of pursuing electrical aggregation in order to lap up a new trickle of revenue; said “fee” should then be known as a kickback whether it is legal or not. A city accepting this “fee” while concurrently collecting a tax on electricity usage could also be described as a despicable double-dipper. And, finally, a city that has not set this “fee” separately in a public meeting, as it is obligated to do in setting other fees and taxes, should be seen as an administration lacking in public morality.

Here we’ve gotten to the crux of the matter. Noteworthy as it is that Rockford residents will save a little money, the heartiest pat on the administrative back should be about the ethics of the decision.

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