One of the best things to come from this past November's election is the approval of community-wide “Electric Aggregation” within Chicago and a number of suburbs! What does this mean?
Sometime ago, a state law granted permission for electricity users in Illinois to choose to buy their electric power from an alternate (ie. non-ComEd or Ameren) provider. When that election was made, the electric utility covering that area was still obligated to deliver that power to the home and assess “transmission charges” for that service.
During 2012, several local government entities developed a way to use the basic laws of economics to secure community-wide contracts with a given power provider, thereby resulting in a cheaper power/kilowatt hour rate than any single family could secure on their own. As one would suspect, anyone in such a community could “opt out” and still use the utility company as their power provider.
The results have been startling. In 2011, just 54,000 Illinois consumers had secured a power contract from a company other than ComEd or Ameren. However, by August of 2012, over 800,000 had made that switch!
In the city of Chicago, residents now have their opportunity to benefit from this money saving option. Residents have been receiving a letter informing them of the contract terms and potential savings – from which they will benefit unless they “opt-out”. In a letter from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to city aldermen, he reports:
“By purchasing energy in bulk, we will put money back into the pockets of Chicago residents and small businesses, saving Chicagoans 11% on their electricity bills over the first 15 months of the contract, resulting in an average savings of $135-165 for the typical single-family home owner. The City’s agreement will also eliminate coal from the City’s energy sources, resulting in cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions.” ward32.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/City-of-Chicago-Alderman-Binders-Opt-Out-Mateirals-All-Translations.pdf
The power provider chosen by the city is Integrys, who will be providing power at a rate of 5.424 cents/kwh. That figure is quite comparable to the cost secured by a number of suburban cities/towns. It is very misleading to compare power costs across various areas, because each contract varies with regard to beginning date (the rate is determined in large part by then existing power costs), the length of the contract, and any additional terms/covenants (such as requiring non-coal power sources or a minimum amount of renewable energy power generation).
However, a quick summary of existing suburban contracts as of September shows the following:
Woodstock, Huntley 4.169 cents/kwh
Morton Grove 4.420 cents/kwh
Rolling Meadows 4.620 cents/kwh
Barrington 4.739 cents/kwh
Lake Zurich 4.750 cents/kwh
Palatine, Arlington Hts, others 4.775 cents/kwh
Park Ridge, Northbrook 4.836 cents/kwh
These figures are just a hint of the range of savings on the cost of electrical power available through community aggregation. If you have not yet become a part of such a program, I encourage you to check with your own municipality! http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-20/news/ct-tl-electrical-aggregation-north-20120920_1_alternative-electricity-suppliers-electricity-bills-comed