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Aug. 3, 2020
Chicago is one of the most populated cities in the United States, with the majority of its electricity coming from nuclear power, followed by natural gas and non-hydroelectric renewables. The city is a major contributor to power consumption in the state of Illinois, which is the fifth-highest in the country. Here’s how the Chicago electricity market works, as well as how you can save on your energy bill, and get the best electricity rates.
Almost all of Chicago's electricity production is from nuclear energy, coal, natural gas, and renewable energy sources.
All Chicago residents (business and residential customers) receive electricity bills that are divided into two categories – supply and delivery charges.
The supply charges include the cost of producing and supplying power. These are in kilowatt-hour (kWh) per month. The charge is different for the multiple retail electricity providers throughout the city. The primary cost difference is between the Standard Offer Service (SOS) and multiple retail electric suppliers (RES). Any additional electricity adjustment and supply charges can be avoided if you apply for power delivery with one of the retail suppliers.
The delivery services are provided by the utility company you sign up with. In Chicago, you can choose between Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Ameren Illinois, Nicor Electric, and Spark Energy, as your local utility company. The delivery cost consists of the distribution and transmission charge, Combined Public Benefits (CPB) charge, customer service charge, and the Competitive Transmission Assessment (CTA) charge.
You can learn more about Chicago’s energy rates here.
The state of Illinois deregulated the electricity utility industry in 1997. Since then, individual electricity providers have started to compete via lower-than-market prices, competitive electricity plans, as well as repair and maintenance services.
Chicago residents can register with an independent retail energy provider for their home energy needs. However, if a resident does not register with an independent supplier, the default energy service company for the region automatically starts electric supply as Standard Service.
The Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)regulates all energy suppliers, as well as the Standard Offer Service from your energy service provider.
The Standard Offer is your ‘Price to Compare.’ You can use the Price to Compare to see which supplier offers the best utility rates in their area.
All Chicago residents can choose from the multiple electric rates and plans offered by the four local suppliers, based on factors such as their rates and customer service. You can then shop for the best prices, but remember to read the fine print, check for any hidden fees, and/or escalating rates.
Alternatively, you can use Arbor’s free TrueRate Protection service to automatically find and switch to the best Chicago electricity rate in your area.
Arbor scans the market and gives you the best rates you can get in your service area. When your term is expiring, Arbor finds the best rate and switches you again. You always pay the best rate and never have to worry about overpaying for electricity ever again.
You can also use the free savings calculator to find out how much you could save in each case.
Each utility supply company offers different plans, as well as plan lengths and electricity prices. You can change your electricity supplier at any time.
Transferring to another supplier is easy. All you have to do is get a copy of your recent electricity bill, find out which company supplies your electricity, and check the cost per energy usage to find out your current rate.
You can use Arbor to find out what the best rate in your area is by using our free savings calculator.
Once you have your supplier and their current rates, you can then compare your current energy supply rate with those offered by other suppliers, and sign up online or over the phone.
Furthermore, different energy suppliers may offer different types of plans.
These are the three plan options you have to choose from in Chicago:
Fixed-Rate Plans: A fixed plan requires you to pay the same rate throughout your plan duration. Fixed-rate plans are highly stable and you can choose from several rate structures. We recommend fixed-rate plans because they minimize risk and provide price certainty. But be careful; when your term expires, your rate becomes variable and can go up without notice. Arbor automatically keeps you on the best fixed-rate plan, so you don’t have to worry about rate hikes at the end of your term.
Variable-Rate Plans: These plans depend on the price fluctuations in the energy market. Your electricity costs can change every month, depending on variation in the general utility market. Variable-rate plans are not stable but can yield lower rates based on seasonal changes.
Prepaid Plans: These plans can be purchased at a set monthly, biannual, and/or annual price. The plan costs depend on the retail supplier you choose, and you may end up paying more if you go over the energy unit limit.
You can choose a plan that's better for your current financial state and spending capacity. Many plans may ask for an initial deposit. All the plans available through Arbor never require a deposit.
As a Chicago resident, you have a few competitive options in terms of retail suppliers. You have to choose the best electric service provider by checking which energy plan works best for you, and then compare the rates on that plan with the Price to Compare (or your current supplier’s rate).
You can then check which electric choice offers the most savings on your bill, and decide accordingly.
You can also find out how to understand and pay your electric bill yourself. However, utility bills can be complex and difficult to understand, which is why people trust Arbor to manage their electricity supply services for them. This lets them avoid unnecessary service interruptions and pay the best electricity rate available in Chicago.
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