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Special Report: Is your community power deal still best for you?

Once, municipal aggregation—when community leaders negotiate power prices on behalf of residents–was a sure bet for electricity savings.

Not any more.

“Although it’s still possible to save money with electric competition, the era of easy savings is over in Illinois,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata says in CUB’s special report today.

Kolata advises consumers to ask three questions to avoid bad deals:

1. How does the per kilwatt-hour (kWh) rate I’m paying compare with the utility’s price?

2. Is a monthly fee added to the offer and how does that impact the price?

3. Do I have to pay an exit fee to get out?

Illinois’ power market has gone through seismic changes over the last two years, so nobody should automatically assume their community power deal is a winner. In fact, several communities have advised their residents to shop elsewhere for electricity deals because they could no longer secure a better deal. CUB’s Oct. 16 review of PlugInIllinois.org, the Illinois Commerce Commission’s electricity choice website, indicates how the market has changed:

•More than 140 community deals had rates higher than the average utility prices.

•Community offers in Ameren territory averaged about 4.41 cents per kWh. That’s about 8 percent up from the average price of 4.08 cents per kWh that CUB found in a February 2013 review.

•Aggregation deals in ComEd territory averaged about 6.56 cents per kWh. That’s 35 percent up from the average price of 4.85 cents per kWh that CUB found in 2013.

CUB’s review of the aggregation market found five communities that also have monthly fees attached to their per kWh rates: Burbank, Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park and McCook. For more information on these deals, visit our calculators–one for Chicago residents (ChicagoPowerCalculator.com) and one for Burbank, Chicago Ridge, Evergreen Park and McCook residents (CUBPowerCalculator.com).