Making Sense of Your Electric Bill

Your electric bill is generally divided into three categories: delivery, supply charge and taxes.

Delivery charges, which cover the cost of maintaining the lines and equipment needed to deliver power to your home (plus a profit for the utility), require Illinois Commerce Commission review and approval.

The supply charge, which covers the cost of the actual power the utility sends to customers, is set by a market-based auction process managed by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA). Under law, utility companies cannot profit off of supply. They are required to pass those costs onto customers with no markup.

Electricity usage is billed by the kilowatt-hour (kWh)—roughly enough power to run a typical window air conditioning unit for an hour. The bill lists your previous and current meter readings, along with the dates they were taken. The difference between the two readings is your power usage for the current billing period (typically a month).

If the utility doesn’t read your meter in a given month, your bill will be estimated (“E,” “EST,” or “ESTIMATED” will appear on it). That means it is based on last year’s usage for the same month, adjusted for weather. New digital meters allow for remote readings and should eliminate estimated readings for Ameren and ComEd customers.

If the utility doesn’t read your meter for two consecutive months, find out why and request an actual reading.

Glossary of Charges

Not all of these charges will appear on your bill. Charges may have slightly different names, depending on your utility.

Meter Information

Read Dates. Billing period for which the meter was read.

Meter Number. Electric meter’s ID number.

Load Type. ComEd residential bills list “General Service.” Ameren bills do not have a section labeled “load type.”

Reading (or Read) Type. Electric usage is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

Previous Meter Read. Previous month’s meter reading.

Present (Current) Meter Read. This month’s meter reading.

Difference. The difference between previous and past readings.

Multiplier. A factor applied to certain types of customers to determine usage. For most homes, the multiplier is 1.

Usage. Electricity used in the last billing period. (The difference between present and previous meter readings.)

Supply Charges

These rates, which take up half to two-thirds of your bill, cover the cost of the electricity itself. Electricity prices are set by a market-based auction process. Under law, utilities are not allowed to profit off of this part of your bill.

Electricity Supply Charge. ComEd and Ameren are supposed to pass the energy costs on to customers with no markup. This charge may be slightly higher than the actual market price because it is adjusted for other costs, such as “line loss.” That’s when power traveling over the lines is lost as it gives off heat. Utilities have a summer and non-summer supply charge.

Purchased Electricity Adjustment. Utilities can’t profit off the price of power, so this monthly adjustment, a credit or debit, balances any discrepancy between what the utility paid for power and what you paid in the energy charge.

Supply Cost Adjustment. Covers other administrative costs connected to procuring power. ComEd does not have a line item for this charge but rolls it into the energy charge.

Transmission Service(s) Charge. Covers the costs of sending electricity from a power plant to your utility. A utility must get Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to increase this charge.

Delivery Charges

These rates, which take up a third to a half of your bill, cover the cost of delivering power to homes, plus a profit for the utilities. When utilities ask the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for a rate hike, they want to increase these rates.

Customer charge. Covers administrative costs of doing business, such as billing, postage, and building rental costs.

Meter Charge; Standard Metering Charge. Covers meter readings and other services, such as installing, maintaining, and testing meter equipment.

Distribution Delivery Charge; Distribution Facilities Charge. Covers the costs of maintaining equipment/wires, and other costs not recovered through the customer charge. (Ameren has summer/non-summer rates.)

Electric Deferred Income Tax Adjustment. A tax-related refund that the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act helped secure. It’s a separate line item on Ameren bills, but the refund is wrapped into ComEd rates.

Other Charges

EDT Cost Recovery; Illinois Electricity Distribution Charge. Recovers the Illinois Electricity Distribution Tax. This per kWh rate is the same for all customer classes.

Electric Environmental Adjustment; Environmental Cost Recovery Adj. Covers clean-up costs at former gas-manufacturing sites.

Renewable Energy Adjustment; Renewable Portfolio Standard. Previously, this was wrapped in the supply charge for electricity. It’s now a separate per kWh line item.

Clean Energy Assistance; Zero Emission Standard. Supports carbon-free power produced by nuclear plants.

Carbon-Free Energy Resource Adjustment (ComEd only). Supports carbon-free nuclear plants. Turns into a credit for most customers when energy prices reach a certain high level.

Utility-Owned Solar and Storage Adjustment (Ameren only). Allows Ameren to recover costs associated with planning for, constructing, installing, controlling, owning, managing and operating up to two large scale solar pilot projects.

Customer Generation Charge (Ameren only). Recovers rebates issued to customers using smart inverters to interconnect generators.

Energy Efficiency. A per-kWh charge to cover energy efficiency and demand-response programs, such as the Home Energy Assessment and Hourly Pricing, that help customers save money.

Energy Transition Assistance. Collected by the utility and then forwarded to the state, this fee helps Illinois fund workforce and contractor development, community support and other programs connected to the clean energy transition.

Franchise cost. Some cities require a utility to pay a fee in exchange for the right to deliver electricity to them. Utilities recover such costs from customers in those towns.

Illinois state electricity excise tax; State tax. It’s a third of-a-cent per kWh.

Municipal tax. State law caps the utility tax that cities can impose. The utility collects the money and forwards it to the municipality.

What your Electric Utility Charges

Ameren (1-800-755-5000)

Customer Charge*: $7.33 per month


Meter Charge: $4.84 per month


Energy Charge Non-summer (October-May):

  • 8.683¢/kWh for usage 0-800 kWh
  • 7.670¢/kWh for usage over 800 kWh


Energy Charge Summer (June – September): 



Distribution Charge: 

  • Summer: 6.644¢/kWh
  • Non-summer (first 800 kWh used): 3.889¢/kWh
  • Non-summer (usage over 800 kWh): 2.063¢/kWh

ComEd (1-800-334-7661)

Customer Charge*:

  • Single-family home, without electric heat: $12.67 per month
  • Single-family home, with electric heat: $14.44 per month
  • Multifamily home, without electric heat: $9.64 per month
  • Multifamily home, with electric heat: $10.43 per month


Standard Meter Charge: $3.30 per month


Energy Charge Non-summer (October – May):

6.848¢ per kWh


Energy Charge Summer (June – September):



Distribution Charge:

  • Single-family home, without electric heat: 4.777¢ per kWh
  • Single-family home, with electric heat: 2.307¢ per kWh
  • Multifamily home, without electric heat: 3.659¢ per kWh
  • Multifamily home, with electric heat: 2.198¢ per kWh

*Customer charge listed may include small fees to subsidize heating costs for low-income consumers; to develop renewable energy and clean-coal technology, to recover the costs of real-time pricing programs, which allow homes to pay an hourly rate for power; to cover utility billing costs associated with alternative retail energy suppliers; and an uncollectibles charge.