June 25, 2014
Expecting questions about the new electricity deal negotiated by the City of Chicago and Integrys Energy Services, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the City released a free calculator to help 700,000 households better understand their rates under the municipal aggregation program.
The CUB-City calculator, at www.ChicagoPowerCalculator.com, is designed to help Windy City residents decide whether to stay with Integrys or switch back to Commonwealth Edison.
Since 2012, Integrys Energy Services has contracted with the City of Chicago to supply electricity to more than 700,000 customers, in a deal that ensures that none of the power purchased will come from coal-fired power plants. Under the first 16 months of the deal, all Chicago residents saved money (more than $30 million, or an average of about $42 per household).
Because of changing market conditions, the City has negotiated a new offer for the final year of the deal. Rates for June 2014 through May 2015 are:
- Single family homes: 5.299 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), plus $22.36 monthly fee
- Apartment/Condominiums: 5.299 cents per kWh, plus $9.06 monthly fee.
To compare, ComEd is charging 7.596 cents per kWh June through September 2014. The company's non-summer rate, from October 2014 through May 2015, has not been finalized.
Many households will add to their savings under the new Integrys plan, but others will see their initial savings partially reduced and may want to switch back to ComEd. Making the right decision depends on each customer's housing type and average monthly electricity usage.
"CUB created this calculator because we want Chicagoans to have all the tools they need to make the right electric choices for their households," CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. "Our electric market works best when consumers have good information and great tools to help sort through all the options and make sound decisions that protect their bottom lines."
"I am committed to ensuring that Chicago ratepayers get the best deal possible on their electricity bills, whether it's through the City's coal-free municipal aggregation program that has saved residents and small businesses more than $30 million since February 2013 or by returning to ComEd at no cost," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "We will continue to work with CUB to ensure that Chicago ratepayers save money on their electricity bills."
In a few steps, the calculator allows consumers to input an estimate of their monthly electricity usage, pick their housing type (single-family or apartment/condo) and calculate what they would pay for electricity with ComEd versus Integrys.
Because ComEd's non-summer rate has yet to be finalized, the calculator shows consumers what they would pay for the summer months, June through September, when most people use the bulk of their power. CUB will email calculator users when it updates the tool with ComEd's October rate.
The monthly fees in the Integrys offer represent a more fair and transparent way of allocating two costs that are usually wrapped into the price to compare: "capacity costs" and the "transmission services charge," according to the City. Capacity costs help assure that enough electricity will be available from power plants when demand is at its highest over the year. The transmission charge covers the cost of sending electricity over high-voltage lines to ComEd's grid. In both cases, the amount of the cost is driven by the level of customer demand and is determined by the regional grid operator and federal regulators.
Households that determine they will not save money in the final year of the Integrys deal can switch back to ComEd at any time without paying an exit fee. To switch, call the Integrys Hotline, at 1-888-802-2885. If consumers do choose to switch back to ComEd, it can take up to two months to complete the change.
CUB, Illinois' leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization, is celebrating its 30(th) Anniversary. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, CUB has saved consumers more than $10 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds.
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