Power Suppliers’ Switched On But Honeymoon Is Ending

Illinois residents saved up to $218 million on their electric bills last year thanks to competition in the market.  But that’s expected to shift this summer, and a consumer watchdog group is voicing its early concerns.

For a long time, Illinois residents didn’t have any choice about where their electricity came from.  It was supplied by either Commonwealth Edison, or Ameren.   Now residents have a few dozen options.

A new report from the Citizens Utility Board, or CUB, says since 2010, 1.7 million households switched suppliers.  And they saved a lot of money doing it.

But in June, Com Ed and Ameren will be freed from long-term contracts that locked in higher rates.

CUB’s Jim Chilsen says that means alternative suppliers’ price advantage will disappear.

CHILSEN: “It’s going to be really important that as this time nears, that people just be aware.  It could be very well be possible that some competing suppliers get very desperate, and we see an uptick in misleading marketing.”

Chilsen says CUB’s concerned competing suppliers may try to grab new customers by offering low introductory rates … only for those rates to skyrocket later.  He says other companies are charging early termination fees.

Chilsen cautions consumers to do their research.  And he says if alternative suppliers want to succeed, they need to get creative – like with programs such as real-time pricing for electricity use.

-Amanda Vinicky

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