Consultants' fees to opt-out of municipal aggregations in Illinois are increasing. At the same time, the electric rates offered by competitive suppliers are lower than those obtained by many aggregations.

"Opt-out" municipal aggregation is a program that switches the electric supplier of every customer in a city or town to the city's chosen supplier -- unless the customer affirmatively opts out.

The Chicago Tribune reports that one consultant working for several municipal aggregations in the Chicago area served by Commonwealth Edison, "will be paid about 10 times more than the last firm that conducted the negotiations."

"The increase coincides with a steep rise in electric rates that will cause bills to shoot up nearly 19 percent for users in Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, Wheeling, Lincolnshire, Long Grove and Vernon Hills," the Tribune reports.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun Times reports that many municipal aggregations are receiving bids for their aggregations that are above the electric rates that competitive electric suppliers make available to customers shopping for their power outside of municipal aggregations.

Take the Village of Norridge, for example.  Its current aggregation contract is expiring, and the best rate it could secure for a renewal was 8.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Competitive suppliers, however, are offering rates as low as 7 cents per kWh for customers who shop.

The high electric rates that were bid for the municipal aggregation prompted Norridge to terminate the aggregation, meaning customers will be switched back to ComEd for their electric supply.  However, ComEd's rate, about 7.5¢ plus a reconciliation charge which pushes the price towards 8¢, is still above the rates offered by competing electric suppliers for customers who shop around.