City asks for power to negotiate electricity rates on ballot

October 23, 2012 8:28:30 PM PDT
Voters have a choice on Election Day that could result in lower electricity bills. The city of Chicago is asking for the power to negotiate rates.

What's just a proposal in Chicago is already in practice in dozens of suburbs.

"Over the course of a year we're going to have saved $230," said Michael Towner of Brookfield.

Towner and his family say they see real savings on their bill. Their electricity is still delivered by Com Ed, but the actual juice powering everything from the kids' computer to the lights and television all comes from a different supplier.

In August, their bill under Com Ed's rate was $97.44. Simply switching suppliers brings their bill down $64.76 -- a savings of more than $32.

Brookfield, like many suburbs, negotiated a backstop with the new supplier so they'll never pay more than the rate Com Ed offers.

"If that's who you feel more comfortable with, stay with Com Ed. But I want the $230 a year. That's two payments! Two electricity payments I want back in my pocket," said Towner.

"Short term, consumers are saving money with electrical aggregation. Long term, the savings aren't guaranteed," said Patrick Deignan, Citizens Utility Board.

At a community meeting Tuesday night in the Little Village neighborhood, residents learned that even if aggregation passes in Chicago , individual residents could still opt out.

"Bottom line: it's savings for Chicago rate payers. This is an opportunity for the city to go out and find a better deal by negotiating in bulk and delivering savings to rate payers," said Michael Negron, Chicago Deputy Chief Of Policy & Planning.

For the Towner family, it's lowered their electric bill by a third.

"It's a no-brainer. No loss one way or the other. It's a win win," said Towner.

A Com Ed spokesperson says the utility supports customer choice. After all, they'll still make money from charging to deliver that power into your home.

Many suburbs -- from Bourbonnais to Bensenville, Schaumburg to Chicago Heights -- will also have electricity aggregation measures on the November 6th ballot as well.

Citizens Utility Board www.citizensutilityboard.org

Illinois Commerce Commission www.pluginillinois.org

Com Ed: www.comed.com/about-us/municipal-aggregation/Pages/default.aspx (includes list of suburbs with aggregation measures on ballot on Nov 6)

City of Chicago: www.cityofchicago.org/electricityaggregation


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