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.
“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.
Commonwealth 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-bedroom 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.
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.
Anne 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
If you buy electricity in Illinois there is a good chance you’ve saved a little money due to municipal aggregation. A few years ago when Illinois opened up its retail electricity market the law allowed for companies to negotiate deals with local municipal governments (villages, cities, counties, townships) which typically resulted in cheaper electricity for residents. Okay, hopefully I haven’t already lost you…this is important!
Most of those rates were pretty good – unless you’re in Aurora, IL – your rates are very high and you should call us immediately! But, many of those agreements are set to expire in coming months. One very big example is the City of Chicago who’s municipal aggregation agreement expires in May of 2015. However, there are many other agreements that are set to expire soon.
What that means is there will be uncertainty in the market and potential rate increases. Here are a couple of tips to protect yourself from rate increases:
Check here to see if your municipal aggregation plan is set to expire soon.
If it is, check with your town about the new rates.
Keep a close eye on your electricity bill.
With preparation and research you can benefit from the market uncertainty by getting lower rates from competitors. If you don’t have the time to research and manage the switching – we can do it for you.
Many people (Chicago included) will automatically switch to being Comed customers. If you’d prefer cheaper or greener electricity than Comed offers, sign up with Energy Simply and we’ll keep you locked into the cheapest or cheapest green electricity available at all times.
Last Sunday Rob, Gideon and myself discussed saving people money on energy on the Shalom Klein show which airs on 560 AM in Chicago. Check it out to learn about deregulation, how Energy Simply can save you money and our plans for the future.
Recent news reports have cast a light on impending increases that will start to show up on your electricity bills. The reports outline obscure policies and conditions that could lead to increases as high as 20%! The time has never been better to shop around for a better electricity supplier, or let Energy Simply do the work for you – you’ll save money as energy prices increase and you won’t have to worry about getting hit with hidden fees or switching penalties.
Crains recently reported on a somewhat obscure court ruling that could have major impacts on your energy bills. They’ve also provided coverage on power company rate hikes that will lead to residential customers’ rates jumping significantly! The Chicago Tribune had a similar article outlining the rate hikes for Chicago-area customers.
Finally, there are many consumers whose municipal aggregation electric plans are set to expire and increase in the near future. The Village of Norridge is planning to switch back to Comed since they haven’t been able to negotiate a lower group price. Arlington Heights has paid major fees to an energy consultant, but their rates still aren’t the cheapest available. In fact, cities and towns all over Illinois are seeing their negotiated rates on the rise. Even if your city or town has negotiated good electricity rates for you, Energy Simply can save you money and find you 100% renewable plans, and there is no penalty for opting out of your municipal plan.
So, to recap: The bad news is that your electricity prices are going up. But, the good news is that when you sign up with Energy Simply, we will shop around to keep you locked into the cheapest or cheapest 100% renewable electricity plan. You can rest assured you’ll get the best deal for your money.
As rates start to rise, Energy Simply is prepared to take the hassle out of getting the best deals on cheap and renewable electricity.
Gideon Blustein is a Co-Founder and Advisor of Energy Simply. He previously worked in the United States Congress as a Chief of Staff and for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Gideon is pursing an MPA from Northwestern University and holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois.