Chicago negotiated electricity rates soar; single family homes screwed.

If you lived in Chicago, you have probably received a letter from Integrys about the second year of the Electric Aggregation Program. The first year of the program was a real no-brainer: Don’t opt out and your electricity bill goes down. So why not stick with a good thing for a second year?

Well, there is a two-page letter with lots of fine print in the envelope that most people will assume is a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo that shouldn’t concern them. But the letter does disclose something very important, Integrys is adding a new monthly charge of $22.36/month for single family homes and $9.06/month for multi-family homes. Some people who have noticed this are assuming this refers to the monthly customer charge now in the Delivery Services portion of your bill. They are mistaken. This is a brand new charge IN ADDITION to all of the other charges currently appearing on your bill.

While it is true that the per-KWH charge is going down a couple tenths of a cent, when you take into account the new monthly charge, everyone’s bill is going up dramatically. Single family homeowners who conserve electricity are getting hit the worst. There is a chart on the back of the terms and conditions page that shows what your new rate will work out to if you take into account the new monthly fee. A single family homeowner who uses 500 KWH per month will see their average cost rise to 9.771 cents per KWH – almost double what it is now.

If you choose to opt-out and return to letting ComEd supply your electricity, the rate ComEd will charge has not yet been determined but is believed it will be close to 7.7 cents/KWH. Of course, there are other companies to choose from, too.

There is a provision that if the AVERAGE customer pays more than the ComEd rate, then the Integrys rate must be lowered to bring down the average. I have not seen exactly how that would work. But it does not sound like the single-family homeowner paying 9.771 cents will benefit from this.

I can’t be the only one in the city who thought the Integrys deal sounded too good to be true. I opted out. Not because I doubted they would save me money, but because I didn’t trust them to be as reliable in the long run. Looks like I might have been correct on not trusting the pricing, either.

According to Forbes Integrys paid no taxes from 2008 - 10, spent 2.45 million in lobbying and received 92 million in tax rebates.

They made a profit of 818 million and increased their executive pay by 109% for their top five executives.

Doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of corporation that is going to worry about the little guy.

Look on the bright side - they’re green!

I did some thinking and did some figuring.

The new Integrys rate will be 5.299 cents/kWh PLUS a monthly fee of $22.36 for single family homes and $9.06 for homes in multi-unit buildings.

The city anticipates that the ComEd rate will be 7.7 cents/kWh with no monthly fee. (This price is not final yet and may change.)

The difference between ComEd and Integrys is approximately 2.4 cents per kWh.

For a single family home:
$22.36/.024 =932 (rounded)
So if you use less than 932 kWh per month, the lower price will not make up for the monthly fee and you will lose money if you stay with Integrys and it is better to opt-out.

For apartments:
$9.06/.024 = 378 (rounded),
So if you use less than 378 kWh per month, the lower price will not make up for the monthly fee and you will lose money if you stay with Integrys and it is better to opt-out.

Of course, there is a third choice.
The Illinois Commerce Commission has a web site with the rates of other alternative providers called Plug in Illinois.

Scanning the data base, I looked for a supplier that promises a fixed rate for at least 12 months and has no monthly fee. The cheapest that I found was Homefield Energy at a fixed price of 6.8280 cents/kWh with a 12-month lock in and no monthly fee or exit fee. Homefield Energy appears to be a subsidiary of the same company that owns Ameren, the company that provides electric services to many downstate communities. Anybody see a better deal?

Whatever you do, your electric bill is going to go up. Way up. The best you can do is to minimize how much it will go up.

The new ComEd rates have been announced:

7.596 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) from June 2014- September 2014 and 7.42 cents per kWh from October 2014-May 2015.

This is slightly lower than the 7.7 cent rate that the city anticipated.

To figure the energy supply services portion of your bill with ComEd as your supplier, multiply the rate per kWh by the number of kWh used.

If you did not opt out of the city’s deal with Integrys, to figure the energy supply services portion of your bill with Integrys, multiply the number of kWh by 5.299 cents and then add $22.36 if you live in a single family home or add $9.06 if you don’t.

The delivery services section of the bill will be the same whether you opted out or not.

You can still switch back to ComEd if you neglected to opt out. Call the ComEd customer service number on your bill. But since it takes one to two months to switch suppliers, you will need to pay for at least a couple of months of service under the Integrys rates if you didn’t opt out by the published deadline.