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State: Illinois electric customers overpaid by $431 million with alternative suppliers

Illinois consumers who buy their electricity from alternative suppliers collectively paid $431 million more in the last year than they would have by sticking with their utility, according to a new report from the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Office of Retail Market Development.

From May 31, 2020 through May 31, 2021, alternative supplier customers in ComEd territory paid $324 million in excess of the regulated utility rate, more than doubling the previous year’s overpayment of $145 million. Ameren-territory consumers paid $107 million.

As CUB has reported before, electricity customers in Illinois have lost more than $1 billion since 2015 to alternative suppliers, and the latest numbers add to that total.

According to the most recent report, released in late July, electric bills where energy is supplied by retailers were more than 25 percent higher overall this past year.

Electric consumers in ComEd, Ameren and MidAmerican territories can choose who provides the supply portion of their electric service. Regardless of a customer’s choice of electric supply, the utility remains responsible for delivering the electricity to your home using its lines, poles and substations.

“These numbers give proof to the guidance CUB has been giving consumers for years: In Illinois’ current electricity markets, ComEd is likely your best bet and energy efficiency is the most reliable way to cut your power bills,” CUB General Counsel Julie Soderna said. “CUB is continuing to fight cases against suppliers, but it’s a buyer-beware market and consumers have to protect themselves from bad deals.”

Despite mounting losses, the overall number of alternative supplier customers dropped this year. 1.57 million residential customers did business with suppliers, compared with 1.67 million last year.

In Ameren territory, of the 635,673 customers of alternative suppliers, 78 percent are municipal aggregation customers, meaning that they are part of a power deal that was negotiated by their community. This is a 10 percent increase from 2020’s aggregation share.