More and more small and mid-sized Illinois business customers are choosing an alternative retail electric supplier to save money on their electric bill, but a majority of small customers still remain with the utility, paying higher rates.

The Illinois Commerce Commission recently released an annual overview of the competitive retail electric market in the state, showing the growth in customers shopping for a lower electric rate.

For over a decade, large Illinois businesses have enjoyed the savings, price certainty, and innovative products available from shopping for a competing energy supplier, and now small businesses are discovering those savings.

As of May 31, 2011 nearly 40% of the electricity used by small businesses at Commonwealth Edison (those under 100 kW) was supplied by a competing electric supplier, up from 32% as of May 31, 2010.  More than 70% of mid-sized business customers at ComEd shop for electricity.

The Ameren territories also saw significant growth in electric shopping among small and mid-sized customers.  At AmerenCIPS, competing electric suppliers now supply 44% of small customer volumes, up from 35% a year ago.  At both AmerenCILCO and AmerenIP, alternative electric suppliers supply 45% of small customer volumes.

The steady growth in electricity shopping shows that more and more customers are understanding the large savings available from choosing a competing energy supplier, and that shopping for a lower electric rate has no effect on the customer's reliability or delivery of electricity.

While encouraging, more than half of small business customers at both ComEd and Ameren still buy their power supply from the utility, even though they can save 20-30% on their electric rate by simply choosing a competing energy provider.  These customers are passing up thousands of dollars in savings by staying with the utility.