Electric Competition: What ComEd customers should know
In northern Illinois, you can choose Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the regulated utility, to supply you with power, or go with an alternative supplier chosen by you or your municipality. This guide covers individual electricity offers. (See CUB's fact sheet for information on municipal aggregation.)

Remember, even if you choose an alternative supplier, you're simply buying electricity from that company. ComEd will still bill you to deliver the electricity to your home, and you'll still call the utility in the event of a power outage.

While it's an interesting development in the electric market, long-term savings are not guaranteed.

Do I get a single bill?
You should get a single bill, but it's a good detail to check. Also, ask if your bill will be paper or online. Most of the suppliers simply include their charges on your ComEd bill, but some (Champion and AEP) send you their own bill.
Will going with an alternative supplier protect me from ComEd rate hikes?
No, ComEd will still bill you to deliver the electricity to your home, and the company periodically will try to raise these "delivery rates" before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). (Help CUB battle rate hikes!)
What happens when my contract ends?
When your contract is up (or you cancel), you are subject to a 12-month stay with ComEd, the utility, if you do not choose another supplier within two months. Some of the companies offer green energy plans. Typically, here's how such plans work:

For a slightly higher price than the company's standard fixed rate, the company pledges to buy "renewable energy certificates," or RECs, from a company that produces wind power. That ensures that the wind company will deliver an amount of renewable energy to somewhere in the electricity system that is equal to the amount you consume. So enrolling in a renewable program doesn’t mean that the actual power you use is coming from a wind farm.

Although RECs are a legitimate option for consumers, there are other ways to help the environment without paying extra for your electricity. For example, practicing energy efficiency at home (see box) can be even more effective. Also CUB sees Illinois' renewable portfolio standard, requiring state utilities to use a certain percentage of renewable energy, as a much more effective way to make the electricity system cleaner and more stable.
What else can I do to cut my electric bill and make my home more efficient?
CUB Energy Saver suggests hundreds of customized actions to cut energy costs, tracks real savings on ComEd bills, and rewards consumers who reduce their energy usage with shopping discounts at local businesses and national retailers. Since its launch, CUB Energy Saver has helped consumers reduce their energy usage by an average of 5.5 percent, or $104 per year.
What details should I look for in the fine print?
Find out:

1. If the price changes after the intial term.
2. If the company charges an exit fee for getting out of the deal before the term is up.
3. If the company charges a monthly fee that will inflate its advertised price.
4. If a contract clause allows the company to get out of the rate it has promised.
5. If the company charges a deposit.
6. If you're eligible to sign up for the company's offer. AEP Energy, for example, does not allow LIHEAP customers and those on deferred payment plans to take advantage of its offers. Warning: Customers using electricity as their primary source of heat as well as customers on ComEd's Real-Time Pricing pay a special rate for their power. Verify if you're on a special utility rate, so you can do an apples-to-apples comparison with the rate an alternative supplier is offering.
What are the offers?
Compare the prices below with ComEd’s 7.665 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate for September 2014. Non-summer prices have not yet been finalized.

*This is a snapshot of plans. The rates and details of offers can change. Beware that plans may change drastically after the initial term. Rates only reflect the price of the power itself. The ComEd price includes the "Electricity Supply Charge" and the "Transmission Services Charge" (1.014 cents), both under the "Supply" section of ComEd bills. The Purchased Electricity Adjustment (PEA), which changes monthly and can be a credit or a debit, is not included in ComEd's price to compare. It can add up to 0.5 cents per kWh to ComEd's rate.
Alternative Electric Supplier Offers
Company
Rate (¢/kWh)
Fees
Term
AEP Energy
1-866-258-3782
7.59 fixed
None
12 months
AEP Energy
1-866-258-3782
7.89 fixed*
None
12 months
AEP Energy
1-866-258-3782
6.97 fixed
None
6 months
AEP Energy
1-866-258-3782
7.69 fixed
None
24 months
Ambit
1-877-282-6248
12.27 variable (12.14 new customer rate)
None
Monthly
Ambit
1-877-282-6248
13.27 variable (13.14 new customer rate)*
None
Monthly
Ambit
1-877-282-6248
6.95 variable
None
Monthly
Champion
1-888-653-0087
7.3 fixed
Exit fee of $10/month left on plan
12 months
Champion
1-888-653-0087
7.6 fixed*
Exit fee of $10/month left on plan
12 months
Champion
1-888-653-0087
7.5 fixed
Exit fee of $10/month left on plan
24 months
Clearview Electric
1-800-746-4702
8.39 variable (Guaranteed rate for rest of year)*
No exit fee
Monthly
Clearview Electric
1-800-746-4702
12.99 variable (Guaranteed rate for rest of year)*
No exit fee
Monthly
ConEdison Solutions
1-888-320-8991
7.17 fixed
No exit fee
3 months
ConEdison Solutions
1-888-320-8991
7.5 fixed
No exit fee
15 months
Constellation
1-866-577-4700
7.79 fixed
$150 exit fee (3-month opt-out period)
12 months
Constellation
1-866-577-4700
9.59 fixed*
$150 exit fee (3-month opt-out period)
12 months
Constellation
1-866-577-4700
7.49 fixed
$150 exit fee (3-month opt-out period)
36 months
Direct Energy
1-866-266-2084
6.95 fixed
None
6 months
Direct Energy
1-866-266-2084
6.95 fixed
None
12 months
Direct Energy
1-866-266-2084
6.95 fixed
None
18 months
Direct Energy
1-866-266-2084
7.19 fixed, plus a Nest Thermostat
$200 exit fee
27 months
Direct Energy
1-866-266-2084
7.29 fixed, plus a Nest Thermostat
$200 exit fee
24, 36 months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
7.939 fixed
None
6 Months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
7.799 fixed
None
12 Months
Energy.ME
1-855-243-7270
7.649 fixed
None
24 Months
Energy Plus
1-877-830-6820
6.6 variable (3 months only)
None
Monthly
Ethical Electric
1-800-460-4900
10.4 fixed*
No exit fee
12 months
Ethical Electric
1-800-460-4900
10.4 variable* (price guaranteed for six of the 12 months)
No exit fee
12 months
Ethical Electric
1-800-460-4900
8.8 variable* (3 months only)
No exit fee
Monthly
Green Mountain Energy
www.greenmountain.com
6.4 variable*(1-month introductory rate)
None
Monthly
Green Mountain Energy
www.greenmountain.com
8.4 fixed*
$150 exit fee
12 months
Green Mountain Energy
www.greenmountain.com
6.8 fixed*
$100 exit fee
6 months
Hiko Energy
www.hikoenergy.com
7.6 variable
None
Monthly
Hope Energy
www.hopeenergy.org
8.5 fixed
$50 exit fee
24 months
IGS Energy
1-888-995-0992
8.79 fixed
None
12 months
IGS Energy
1-888-995-0992
8.99 fixed*
None
12 months
IGS Energy
1-888-995-0992
7.59 fixed*
$8.95 monthly fee
36 months
Illinois Gas & Electric
1-866-705-7291
6.741 variable
None
Monthly
Integrys
1-888-688-1236
8.45 fixed
$50 exit fee
12 months
Integrys
1-888-688-1236
8.37 fixed
$50 exit fee
24 months
Integrys
1-888-688-1236
8.29 fixed
$50 exit fee
36 months
MajorEnergy
1-888-625-6760
7.79 fixed
$100 exit fee
12 months
MC Squared Energy Services
1-877-622-7697
Fixed rates vary with custom pricing (green options available)
None
12 months
MidAmerican Energy
1-800-432-8574
7.49 fixed
None
Through December 2015
Nordic Energy Services
1-877-808-1022
Varies with custom pricing
None
Varies
North American Power
1-888-313-9086
6.99 fixed*
No cancellation fee
3 months
North American Power
1-888-313-9086
8.94 fixed*
No cancellation fee
3 months
North American Power
1-888-313-9086
8.89 fixed*
exit fee of $10/month left on plan
12 months
North American Power
1-888-313-9086
10.84 fixed*
exit fee of $10/month left on plan
12 months
NRG Residential Solutions
1-855-674-7697
6.9 variable (first 3 months only)
None
Monthly
Oasis Energy
1-800-324-3046
8.01 fixed*
Exit fee of $12/month left on plan
12 months
Oasis Energy
1-800-324-3046
7.99 fixed
Exit fee of $12/month left on plan
12 months
Oasis Energy
1-800-324-3046
7.4 fixed
Exit fee of $12/month left on plan
24 months
Oasis Energy
1-800-324-3046
7.74 fixed*
Exit fee of $12/month left on plan
24 months
Oasis Energy
1-800-324-3046
7.99 fixed
Exit fee of $12/month left on plan
6 months
PALMco
1-877 726-5862
6.398 variable (first 2 months only)
None
Monthly
Realgy Energy Services
1-877-300-6747
7.11 variable
$3.75 monthly fee, $50 exit fee
24 months
Santanna Energy Services
1-800-827-0067
8.99 fixed
$7.99 monthly fee, no exit fee
12 Months
Spark
1-877-547-7275
7.75 fixed*
$4.95 monthly fee, $100 exit fee
24 months
Spark
1-877-547-7275
8.29 fixed*
$4.95 monthly fee, $100 exit fee
12 months
Spark
1-877-547-7275
6.99
$4.95 monthly fee, $100 exit fee
6 months
Spark
1-877-547-7275
7.29 fixed
$4.95 monthly fee, $100 exit fee
12 months
Spark
1-877-547-7275
7.29 fixed
$4.95 monthly fee, $100 exit fee
24 months
Sperian Energy
1-888-682-8082
6.39 variable
$4.93 monthly fee, no exit fee
Monthly
Sperian Energy
1-888-682-8082
6.55 fixed
$4.93 monthly fee, $49 exit fee
3 months
Starion Energy
1-800-600-3040
6.77 fixed
$7.97 monthly fee, $50 exit fee
12 months
Starion Energy
1-800-600-3040
12.99 Variable
$7.97 monthly fee, no exit fee
Monthly
Tara Energy
1-855-275-8272
8.49 fixed
$50 exit fee
12 months
Tara Energy
1-855-275-8272
9.39 fixed
$50 exit fee
24 months
Tara Energy
1-855-275-8272
8.99 fixed*(5% discount off utility price for first month)
$50 exit fee
36 months
Verde Energy USA
1-800-388-3862
7.19 fixed*
None
3 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
9.11 variable*
None
Monthly
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
8.11 variable*
None
Monthly
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
7.49 fixed*
$50 exit fee
36 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
8.49 fixed*
$50 exit fee
36 months
Viridian
1-866-663-2508
7.22 variable* (2 months only, then variable or 36-month fixed)
$50 exit fee (for fixed rate)
Monthly
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
6.99 variable (3-month promotional rate)
None
Monthly
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
7.99 fixed
$110 exit fee
12 months
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
7.99 fixed
$175 exit fee
24 months
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
9.59 variable*
None
Monthly
Xoom Energy
1-888-997-8979
8.20 fixed*
$110 exit fee
12 months
Note: Prices as of Sept. 10, 2014.