The Facts on Community Aggregation
Illinois law allows municipalities and counties to purchase electricity on behalf of residential and small-business utility customers living within their borders. While municipalities choosing community aggregation would be responsible for negotiating the price of power from a supplier other than the traditional utility, your utility would still be responsible for delivering that power to your home, and billing you for it. In theory, communities could use the collective bargaining power of residents to negotiate for lower power prices from suppliers.
Who purchases electricity under the current system?
The Illinois Power Agency (IPA) currently negotiates power prices on behalf of most residential customers statewide. The agency buys power for the states' two biggest utilities, ComEd and Ameren. Those utilities pass the cost of power onto their customers with no markup. The IPA is working to help facilitate community aggregation and to provide advice to communities in order to help them get the best deal possible.
Would I automatically be billed at the rates my community negotiates?
It depends on the community. If a community passes a referendum approving electricity aggregation, residents who don't wish to participate would have two opportunities to "opt out" of the program:
1. When the community sends out an initial letter notifying residents that their electricity supplier will change, and
2. when the utility sends customers a letter notifying them that their electricity supplier has changed. After receiving the utility notification, residents generally have 10 days to opt out. The same rules apply to residents who already purchase electricity through an alternative supplier. If they wish to keep their current supplier, they must opt out of their community's negotiated rates.
If a community fails to pass a referendum but still chooses to move forward, the program would be "opt in," where residents are not enrolled until they sign up. In any case, consumers always have the option of paying their utility's default prices—those negotiated by the IPA.
Would I get two bills?
No. You would continue to get a single bill from your utility.
Would community aggregation lower my electric bill?
Whether or not residents will get lower electricity rates would depend on the contract their community negotiates. If not, residents can opt out of the program.
Does CUB support community aggregation?
CUB supports a community's right to buy electricity from an alternative supplier, in principle. However, it remains to be seen whether community aggregation will lead to real savings for consumers.
What communities buy their own power?
California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio and Rhode Island have community aggregation programs. Rhode Island and Ohio both estimate community aggregation has saved consumers more than $18 million per year.
What else can I do to lower my bill?
CUB Energy Saver recommends hundreds of actions to help you create a personalized plan to cut your power bill. Consumers can connect to their ComEd accounts to track real savings, and earn rewards for their energy savings redeemable at local and national businesses. Signing up is free, and takes just a few minutes.