Illinois began the process of deregulating electricity markets in 1997, with the passing of the Illinois Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law. Since then, customers within the service areas of Ameren Illinois Utilities (AIU), formerly Illinois Power Co., and Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) have a choice of who supplies their power. Looking for electricity supply options in Illinois? You've come to the right place!
What Deregulation Means for You
Deregulation of electricity markets in Illinois means that you have a choice of who provides your electricity supply. This means:
- Greater choice of energy supplier
- Wider price options - choose a floating price, or lock in a fixed price
- Competition among suppliers, leading to lower prices and better customer service
What has not changed with deregulation is the operation of electricity infrastructure. Your local utility still owns, operates, and maintains distribution network for electricity, and the electricity you receive will be the same, regardless of who supplies it. You should not experience any interruptions or change in quality of your service if you decide to purchase energy from a retail electric provider.
Choosing an Alternative Retail Electric Provider in Illinois
If your home is within the service areas of either ConEdison or Ameren, you have a choice of your electric provider. Here are some tips to help you choose:
Deregulation has brought you choice not only in who supplies your electricity, but also what kind of price you pay for it. If you purchase electricity from your utility, you are paying a variable rate known as the "Rate to Compare". This rate changes every month, and is based on the market price of electricity. However, if you choose to purchase your electricity from an ARES, you have the option of locking in a fixed price. In general, we recommend choosing a fixed price for your electricity if you have the option - find out why.
Alternative Retail Electric Providers in Illinois
There are over 50 ARES who provide service throughout the state. To find the best rates available for your zipcode, why not give us a call at 1 (832) 460-0233? We're here to help!
When shopping for energy, it's a good idea to check out the offers of at least four or five ARES before narrowing down. We also recommend checking out what current customers are saying about ARES in your area.
Here are a few things to look out for when you're reading the terms and conditions of your electricity contract:
Early Cancellation Fees?
Also known as "early exit fees" or "termination fees", this is a charge for leaving your (usually fixed price) contract before the end of its term.
Automatic Service Renewal
You should always check what your chosen ARES's policy is for when your contract comes to an end. Some ARES will automatically switch you back to the utility, while others will automatically renew you.
It's a good idea to check out how much of a late payment fee your chosen ARES charges, though you should always contact them to see if you can make a special payment arrangement if you cannot pay your bill on time.
Ways to Communicate With Your Alternate Retail Electric Provider/Dispute Resolution
While it's unlikely that you will enter into a dispute with your ARES, it is a good idea to be aware of the various ways that you can get in touch with the company, as well as what you should do in the event of a problem.
Understand Your Electricity Bill in Illinois
Your electricity bill can be broken down into four main types of charges:
- Charges related to your energy supply: covers the cost of the electricity you have consumed over the previous month.
- Charges to cover the costs of transmission: this covers the costs transporting electricity where it was generated to the local distribution network
- Distribution charges: this covers the cost of delivering electricity across local wires to your home
- Taxes and state surcharges: these may be flat sums, or variable (based on how much ils you have consumed in a month)
How Your electricity Service Works in Illinois
Your electricity service works in four main steps in Illinois:
Generation: The first step of the process of bringing energy in your home is to generate it (in the case of electricity) or to get it out of the ground (for natural gas). Illinois's electricity mix is dominated by nuclear (it leads the nation in terms of nuclear generating capacity and net electricity generation) and coal-fired generation, with some natural-gas generation and some renewables.
Transmission: once electricity is generated, it travels along high-voltage transmission lines to the local distribution network.
Distribution: when it reaches the local distribution network, the voltage of electricity is reduced before it goes along the local wires to your home.
Final Use: the final stage of the process is when electricity reaches your home to be used. How much electricity you use is measured by your utility, and you are charged for your use based on the rate that you have agreed upon with your provider
Got a question about your power supply in Illinois? Give us a call at 1 (832) 460-0233 to find out your best option