Competition in the electric industry has saved Illinois customers $37 billion over the past 16 years, a recent report concludes.

The report, issued by the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Business Roundtable, found that the average Illinois household saved $3,600 due to the introduction of electricity competition, or about $240 annually.

Industrial, commercial, government, and non-profit customers received $19 billion of the savings, which they could use for reinvestment and job creation.

When Illinois began implementing electricity competition in mid-1998, Illinois had the 13th highest average electricity prices in the United States. In 2013, Illinois' average electricity prices were among the ten lowest in the country.

"Illinois [electricity] prices have decreased at the same time that prices in the other states in the region have increased. Rates in Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, where customer choice is either prohibited or severely limited, have risen rapidly. In Ohio, rates have flattened out as the state has embraced competition," the report said.

"Illinois' success in reforming and restructuring energy supply with a focus on customer choice and open markets should stand as a beacon for the development of solutions to other problems facing Illinois that may now seem as intractable as our utility problems once did," the business groups said.

"Electricity at our refinery is one of our biggest expenses, which is also true for many large industrial plants in Illinois," said John Van Der Molen, Energy Procurement Manager for Marathon Petroleum Company, which has a refinery in Robinson, Illinois.

"The competitive [electricity] marketplace has worked by decreasing the cost for industrial users which helps us to be competitive in the industry. It's one of the best things the Illinois legislature has done in the past fifteen years," Van Der Molen said.

"Over the course of the transition to competitive electricity in Illinois, there has been significant improvement in the state's price position relative to the national average price of electricity. In the years prior to the introduction of customer choice, average Illinois electricity prices were well above the national average, consistently on the order of a 10% premium. In the years following however, average Illinois prices have been well under the national -- on average about a 9% discount," the report concluded.