Since deregulation hit the electric market almost 2 million customers have left their traditional supplier. A consumer watchdog group finds people are getting good short term savings but group members worry about what's coming.
Many communities around the state have entered voter-approved programs called electricity aggregation. It basically means all of the customers in those communities are pooled together for essentially a group discount on electric rates. They usually look for alternative energy providers to buy their electricity from. A recent Citizens Utility Board (CUB) report says while aggregation may be cheaper now CUB isn't sure what will happen after this summer.
"The significant price advantage that Illinois power suppliers have enjoyed over ComEd these last few years is going to go away," says Jim Chilsen, CUB spokesperson.
CUB says in June one of the last contracts ComEd has been in, which has kept its electric rates at above market prices, will expire. CUB believes ComEd rates will make a big drop. It doesn't know if ComEd will actually be cheaper than the electrical aggregation contracts, but some people could be stuck in situation where they are paying much more for their power. It's something people in Ogle County need to weigh.
"We were approached by a local company that sponsors these aggregations programs, asked if it could be placed on the ballot to get the opinion of the Ogle County voters and the county board agreed last month to do that," says Kim Gouker, Ogle County Board chair.
In April, Ogle County voters will consider electrical aggregation. CUB says it's not too late for communities that have waited to get aggregation savings but this is also prime time for rip-offs and scams. So customers need to be on guard.
"One of the key questions to ask is if I enter into this deal and suddenly ComEd rate drops below the aggregation rate, can I get out without paying an exit free. It's important to ask those types of questions," says Chilsen.
Ogle county will host its first public hearing on electric aggregation Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at the Ogle County Courthouse, 105 S 5th St, 3rd Floor, Conference Room 319 in Oregon.
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