A recent survey of Illinois customers reveals that nearly half are unaware of their ability to shop for a competing electric supplier that can offer them a lower electric rate.

According to a poll conducted by Kelton Research, which surveyed customers at Commonwealth Edison and Ameren, only 54% of respondents were aware that they have a choice of which electricity provider to use.

Illinois has offered customers at ComEd and Ameren the right to choose their electric supplier since 1997, to provide customers with a tool to save money on their electric bills.

Illinois business customers can save 20-30% on their electric rate -- with no change in reliability or service -- just by choosing a new electric supplier rather than the utility, which will continue to deliver this electricity over the utility's wires.  Residential customers can save 10-15%.

Many customers, however, especially among small and medium-sized businesses, are not exercising their right to shop for a lower electric rate despite the thousands of dollars in savings available.

For example, among the smallest businesses in the ComEd service area -- businesses with peak demands under 100 kilowatts like dry cleaners, branch banks, restaurants, and similar storefront establishments -- only 19% of customers have chosen an alternative retail electric supplier.

These customers are leaving thousands of dollars on the table given the low energy prices available today from competing energy suppliers.

The Kelton Research survey may provide one clue as to what is keeping customers from taking advantage of these savings.  According to the survey, half of customers said that the ease of the shopping process is a primary factor in their decision of whether or not to shop for electricity.  Customers may be under the false impression that choosing a lower electric rate -- a new process for most customers -- will be a hassle and confusing.

Fortunately, with the right tools Illinois businesses can quickly and easily find the lowest electric rates in the market.