Solar Gold Rush in Illinois (and beyond)

I grew up in Illinois and still have many family members there, so I tend to pay attention to the news out of the Prairie State. Unless you live in Illinois (and pay attention to energy news) you may have missed that Illinois is on the precipice of a solar gold rush resulting from legislation adopted by the general assembly in December of 2016. But you couldn’t be blamed since most of the news coverage made little to no mention of the huge solar program included in the legislation.

The legislation was covered through the lens of nuclear power. “Huh?” you’re scratching your head…”I thought we were talking about solar.” Allow me to explain.

Illinois generates more electric from nuclear power plants than any other state with 11 operating nuclear reactors. The plants where those reactors are housed are not especially young, either. So the companies that operate them asked the legislature for approval to raise electric rates to pay for improvements to the plants. However, one of the ways that the company got the legislation passed was by agreeing to collect hundreds of millions of dollars from ratepayers to help subsidize the construction of a lot of new solar energy in Illinois. This helped get environmental lobbying groups on board.SOLAR-FARM-1024x768

“Wait…” you’re thinking as you look outside on this cold, grey, winter day in Illinois, “solar in Illinois?” I was curious about this too, but it turns out that the technology used in solar panels has advanced (and keeps advancing) at a rate that makes it work even in northern climates. States like New York and Minnesota have had aggressive programs in place for some time now. In sunny states like Hawaii and California, they’re setting goals of producing 100% of their electric from renewable.

These developments paint a rosy picture of a future where we will rely on less carbon producing technologies, but it does cost. Illinois has enjoyed relatively cheap electric, but rates are on the rise. I, for one, am happy that some of those increases are helping shepherd in new, clean electric production and not simply being used to maintain the old and less efficient technologies.

Comed Customer? Your rates are about to go up.

increase chartCommonwealth Edison (or Comed for short) is the electric utility that covers most of the Chicagoland Region. According to their website, they supply more than 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois. While it is no secret when their rates are scheduled to increase, many of their customers will be surprised to know that rates are guaranteed to keep climbing incrementally over the next two years.

The current Comed rate is 6.318 cents per kWh. That means if you’re an average user (average sized house, family, appliances etc) your cost might be about $63 bucks per month, not including delivery charges and other fees outside of the cost of electric. Over the next couple years Comed is stepping up prices:

  • June 2017 = 6.89 cents per kWh
  • October 2017 = 7.15 cents per kWh
  • June 2018 = 7.54 cents per kWh

If you’re doing the math then you’ll see that an average user might see a $12/month increase or $144/year. And if you’re an above average user of electricity (heated swimming pool, larger home etc.) your pocketbook will get hit even harder.

Because these prices are tied to the base price of electricity, alternative suppliers will also see increases, but if you’re currently a Comed customer it is a good time to begin shopping the alternative suppliers and actively monitor your costs.

Better Business Bureau, Baby

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Today we received accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and we’re so proud we want to shout it from the mountain tops. However, since we are not on mountain tops and it is rather late at night, we’ll happily post it to the internet via our blog and social media pages.

According to its website, the “BBB helps people find and recommend businesses, brands and charities they can trust.”

Basically they help you, the consumer, know that you’re dealing with a reputable company that delivers on promises. Why does that matter to us? Honestly, because we save people so much money by monitoring and switching their energy supplier that it is a little unbelievable.

If you want to become a believer, sign up at http://www.EnergySimp.ly.

FAQ: What if Comed is the cheapest?

Comed’s electric rates have recently gone down in Illinois prompting the question: what if my cheapest option is the “default” option? In Illinois, if you don’t proactively choose a retail electric provider you auto-default to Comed. This is different from Texas where you must choose a retail electric provider.  Diagram.

For Customers Who Want the Cheapest Electric: There are times when Comed offers a competitive rate, but even when their prices go down, there are typically still a handful of cheaper rates or incentives packages that we can switch our customers into. While the savings might, for a limited time, become smaller they’re still savings. And when prices begin to swing back up – you’ll rest easy knowing that you’re still getting the cheapest.

The Green Answer: Many of our Illinois customers utilize our service to ensure they’re always getting the cheapest 100% renewable electricity. Typically the cost is the same or just slightly more, as outlined in this past blog post. Since we are constantly monitoring and switching our customers into the cheapest rates, our customers often get to take advantage of cash back and gift card incentives from their electric providers as well.

3-6″ of Snow in the Forecast

We blogged last week about the seasons changing – and the impact that will have on your electric bills. And it is about to get real in Northern, IL!

We are fans of Danny Neal and the Stormchaser’s blog. This morning  we woke up to news from Danny that Illinois can expect multiple inches of snow this Friday night and Saturday morning. winter storm watch

Hop on over to Danny’s blog and follow him on Facebook for great weather tracking…and, after you’ve done that – sign up with Energy Simply so you’ll know that you’re not paying way too much for electricity in these cold, dark winter months.

 

Chicagoland Residents could go green AND save 5% vs ComEd

A large number of people in the Chicagoland area are with their incumbent electricity provider, ComEd, and likely paying too much for electricity.

From, October 2015 through May 2016, ComEd is charging its customers $0.07006/kWh.  If you’re in a two-bedroom apartment and using 1,000 kWh/month, you’re paying $70.06 (plus a fixed delivery fee) per month.  If you’re in a four-paying too muchbedroom house using 2,000 kWh/month, you’re paying $140.12 (plus delivery fee) per month.

If you just wanted the cheapest plan, you could be saving about 15% and if you wanted to go green with 100% renewable energy, you could still be saving 5% compared to your default ComEd rate.

Energy Simply actively monitors the Illinois energy market including the nearly 80 plans available for Chicagoland residents as of early October and watches for the best deals for our customers.  We automatically switch you to the cheapest electricity provider for your home based on applying our proprietary models to your own energy usage.  Learn more at:https://www.energysimp.ly/how-it-works or sign-up at: https://www.energysimp.ly/users/sign_up.

Case Study: Small Apartment

Our company is primarily focused on saving Texas consumers money on their electricity. But we also have a unique offering in Illinois that makes up a smaller percentage of our business.

small apartmentAnne was an early adopter of the Energy Simply offering and she has been so pleased with our concept that she’s offered to provide customer testimony for marketing. When I first told Anne about our company I wasn’t sure I would have much chance of gaining her business. Her residence is a small, energy-efficient apartment in Chicago so her electricity use is extremely low. But what struck a chord with Anne wasn’t the money she could save – it was the convenient, no-risk way we could guarantee her the cheapest 100% renewable electricity. She’d carried the guilt around for months and months – knowing she could be buying energy produced from wind and solar, but not knowing where to start or how to avoid paying too much. Energy Simply provided the solution and now Anne’s carbon footprint is smaller – and she’s saving a few bucks a month to boot!

To review – even if you’re in a small apartment, Energy Simply can:

-Help you save if the apartment is older/innefficient

-Lower your carbon footprint by getting you the cheapest 100% renewable

-Ensure you’ll avoid expensive variable rate pricing or hidden fees sometimes associated with renewables

Check out our explainer video or contact us to learn more.