ICC Study: Kane Residents Who Opt Out of Electric Aggregation Pay 24% More
A recent study by the Illinois Commerce Commission indicates Kane County rural residents who opted out of the county’s Electric Aggregation Program and enrolled in an individual contract paid an average of $206 more for their electricity last year.
According to the ICC study, consumers who switched to a private contract paid 24 percent more than the Commonwealth Edison rate for their power.
Sharon Durling, a representative of Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative, said consumers in unincorporated areas of Kane County who don’t take advantage of the aggregation program and enroll in an individual contract often overpay.
“If the residents in your community purchasing power on their own are typical of those in the ICC study, they pay an average 1.6 cents above the Kane County rate,” she said. “That is an average overpayment of $206 per year, per household.”
Those numbers are of particular concern, Durling said, because more residents appear to be purchasing power on their own. Over the last year, ratepayers selecting their own supplier increased by 17 percent.
Some residents choose to sign up with ComEd or other providers in order to receive introductory offers such as airline miles, gift cards, or smart thermostats, Durling said, but those incentives often come with high power rates.
“Residents may not be aware just how much above the ComEd rate they are paying,” she said.
The Kane County Electric Aggregation Program was renewed in August and is available to county residents who live outside municipal boundaries, with the exception of rural residents in Aurora and Dundee Townships, which established aggregation programs separate from Kane County.
Aurora presently has no electric aggregation program. Officials suspended the program in August, when the city’s contract expired.
Dundee Township’s program rate is 7.14 cents.
Presently, the Kane County rate is 7.08 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares to the ComEd rate of 7.149 cents.
Of the Kane County residents who received opt-out notices, 11,736 households enrolled in the county electric aggregation program, representing about 64 percent of the homes eligible for the program.
Most of the remaining 36 percent of residents in unincorporated Kane County enrolled with their own individual supplier.
Durling notes that, as an increasing number of residents select their own supplier, there has been a corresponding increase in complaints filed with the ICC. The number of supplier complaints filed with the ICC rose 19 percent year over year.
“One conclusion is that there may be confusion around the purchase of electricity,” she said. “For many years, ComEd was a monopoly; residents had no need to educate themselves. Aggressive marketers may use such confusion to their advantage, enrolling residents in more costly rate plans.”
Kane County began its electric aggregation program in 2015, offering residents in unincorporated areas access to the lower rates available through bulk purchasing. Residents in those areas are enrolled in the program unless they choose to opt out.
Rural residents have the option to vacate the county program at any time and will never incur an early termination fee. That is not always the case when residents select their own supplier, Durling said.
Kane County residents who opted to go with an independent supplier can switch back to the county program at any time, but Durling advises consumers to watch out for potentially hidden fees.
“When providing information about how ratepayers may enroll in the Kane County aggregation program, we always urge them, if switching from their own individual supplier contract, to first check to ensure they will not be subject to an early termination fee before making the switch. Folks can do that by calling their supplier to confirm. If subject to a fee, they’ll probably want to wait until their contract expires and then enroll at that time.”
Residents who have questions or want to switch the Kane County Electric Aggregation Program should contact Constellation NewEnergy at 844-236-2162 or visit Constellation NewEnergy website. Additional information about the Kane County Electric Aggregation Program is available on the Electric Aggregation Page of the Kane County website.
SOURCE: Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative news release