Your electricity service is made up of three parts: (1) the electricity itself is provided by an electricity generator and is sometimes referred to as electricity "supply" or "generation", (2) the "transmission" of that electricity from the generation facility to your local utility, and (3) the "distribution" or "delivery" of the electricity by the utility over the electric lines that lead to your business or home. In the past, the utility provided all three parts of your electric service (supply, transmission, and distribution).
The Illinois Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law of 1997 restructured the state's electric service industry to allow a choice of electric suppliers. With electric choice, the electric supply may now be provided by different companies known as Retail Electric Suppliers (RESs).
Currently about 75% of the electricity consumed by Illinois' commercial and industrial customers is provided by Retail Electric Suppliers
Illinois started a decade-long transition to electric choice in 1997. The two main utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Ameren, sold their power plants and now only own the transmission and distribution wires that deliver electricity to your home or business.
Customers at ComEd, Ameren, MidAmerican Energy and Mt. Carmel Public Utilities all have the opportunity to save money by shopping for the supply portion of their electric bill.
At Ameren and ComEd, a customer's electric bill has been separated into two parts:
• Regulated distribution of power, which is still only provided by the utility, and
• Supply of the electric commodity, which is open to competition.
Customers can choose to receive their electric supply from their utility, or an alternative retail electric supplier.
If customers don't choose an alternative electric supplier, the utilities serve customers on "default" service.
For large customers, default service is priced at volatile hourly electric rates passed directly through from the wholesale power market. At ComEd, default service customers above 100 kW are exposed to these real-time electric rates; at Ameren, the cutoff is 150 kW.
Because these hourly rates spike wildly throughout the day, most Illinois businesses have shopped for an alternative retail electric supplier to avoid the hourly default rates.
Rates for smaller customers are set through annual competitive solicitations conducted by the Illinois Power Agency. These solicitations "ladder" the customer's energy supply over three years, buying one-third of the power needed annually. This means the default rate can lag the market, and be slow to decrease even when market prices fall. Such a lag occurred in 2010-11, when the recession led to much lower electric rates in the competitive market versus the static default rate. Lower rates from competing electric suppliers led more and more customers to shop for electricity.
Customers who choose an alternate electric provider still have their power delivered to them by their local utility, and contact their utility for all outage reporting. Customers may choose to receive either a single bill from their utility for their delivery service and energy supply service, or can receive two bills, one from each company.
For power outages, please refer to the numbers below:
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