Illinois: Choose Your Electric and Natural Gas Rates
The Illinois energy choice model that began in 1997 now spans both the electric and natural gas markets and has an impressive adoption rate. According to the Illinois Commerce Commission site, more than 2.8 million residents have used the Illinois electric choice program, Plug In Illinois – and nearly 75% of commercial and industrial electricity is provided by retailer suppliers.
Additionally, residents and businesses in many areas of the state have a choice among Illinois natural gas suppliers. With both commodities, consumers are able to continue receiving supply directly from their respective utilities if they wish to do so. In both cases the utilities are prohibited from marking up the supply costs for consumers.
Comparing the electric and natural gas rates available to you
The value of being in a deregulated area really comes down to having the opportunity to look for savings on your bills. If you live in any of these utility service areas, you can compare Illinois natural gas rates or search for competitive electricity rates in Illinois by participating in the Plug In Illinois program:
- Ameren Illinois
- Nicor Gas
- North Shore Gas
- Peoples Gas
If you have more questions about your options, explore the resources we've gathered together here at SaveOnEnergy.com®. You'll learn how to make effective product comparisons, what to look for in a plan and how to use your Illinois electric choice or what makes for great natural gas rates. Enter your ZIP code now to get started.
Discover Illinois Electric Choice through Plug In Illinois
The Illinois Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law passed in 1997 gave residents served by Commonwealth Edison and Ameren the option to choose an alternative Illinois electric supplier, empowering residents to shop around for the lowest electricity rates in Illinois.
The process that enables Illinois electric choice has three steps:
Generation: Electricity is harnessed at generation plants. These generation companies then sell electricity to competitive Illinois electric suppliers.
Supply: Retail Illinois electric suppliers and utilities offer consumers electricity rates. Each company offers its own packages and it's up to consumers to find the best electricity rates in Illinois.
- Distribution: ComEd and Ameren still own the infrastructure that transports electricity to your home or business. Therefore, the utilities are responsible for the delivery portion of Illinois electric supply, regardless of what retailer you choose.
You don't have to embrace the Plug In Illinois program and buy electricity from an alternative supplier. Even if you don't use the Illinois electric choice program, your utility must provide you with default service. The price for default service is based on wholesale Illinois electric prices and the local utility's costs for obtaining the supply.
Some Illinois utilities also offer a "power purchase" option to customers. Under this plan, the utility can act as a purchasing agent and buy an Illinois electric supply for individual customers. It is allowed to charge the market value for the energy supply plus an administrative fee.
Illinois municipal governments are also able to serve as aggregators. If residents of a city vote for aggregation, the city officials can leverage the buying power of all its residents to find potentially lower electricity rates in Illinois.
The catch is, if you live in a city that uses aggregation, you don't have the Illinois electric choice afforded to residents by the Plug In Illinois model used elsewhere in the state. In these areas, you are already enrolled with the retail energy supplier chosen by your city. However, if your city practices aggregation without taking a vote, you have the right to opt out and select your own supplier.
Choosing your own Illinois natural gas rates
Only customers served by Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas and Peoples Gas can choose Illinois natural gas rates from an alternative supplier. In these areas, residential and small business customers have the opportunity to shop in a competitive energy marketplace and find the best Illinois natural gas rates.
The Illinois electric choice and natural gas models are similar in some respects. Your utility will continue to deliver your gas supply regardless of whether or not you opt for an alternative retail supplier. It operates the pipes that transport gas to your home and is also responsible for maintaining them.
If you experience any sort of leak or natural gas issue, you should still notify your utility. Because it continues to provide service, your utility charges a delivery fee, which will occur regardless of whether you switch to a retail Illinois natural gas supplier or remain with the utility.
How to report an Illinois natural gas emergency or power outage
If you need to report a power outage or Illinois natural gas emergency, make sure you contact your utility through the phone numbers listed below.
North Shore Gas