Municipal Electric Aggregation
Hawthorn Woods Electric Aggregation Program Facts
Current Supplier: FirstEnergy Solutions, 888-651-5200 (M-F, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central)
Fixed rate: 5.48 cents / kWh through February 2017 meter read cycles
Following the passage of a voter referendum on November 6, 2012 authorizing the Village of Hawthorn Woods to contract with an electric supplier to seek savings for residential and small commercial retail electric accounts, the Village contracted with FirstEnergy Solutions (FES) for a one-year term. The results of the initial contract brought a cumulative savings to the community of $396,000 in the first nine months of the program, with the average household (that was enrolled in the program) saving $200 in electricity supply costs over that term. The Village again sought bids to renew the program and selected FirstEnergy Solutions for the low competitive rate they were able to offer.
The new rate is 5.48 cents per kWh, for a 36-month term ending 2017. The current ComEd Price to compare is 6.023 cents per kWh, but can change monthly and is expected to increase approximately one cent per kWh effective June 2014. The Hawthorn Woods rate will remain fixed at 5.48 cents.
Opt out notices were mailed to all eligible residential and small commercial retail accounts unless they had already switched to another alternative Supplier, were in the Residential Real-Time Pricing (RRTP) program, or were subject to the ComEd Bundled Hold. If the latter, residents would have received a letter from ComEd explaining the “hold” process.
If a ratepayer has already switched to another supplier but would like to enroll in the Village’s program with FirstEnergy Solutions, they may call FES at 888-651-5200, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Central time, Monday through Friday and present their name, address and ComEd account number for enrollment. Enrollment will occur with one to two billing cycles. Ratepayers are recommended to first check to determine if they have an early termination fee with their supplier, or to check their termination date before enrolling in the Village’s program.
There is no fee to join the program during the three-year term, and no early termination fee should a ratepayer choose to vacate the program or move from the community.
As in the initial program, residents and small commercial retail business owners whose ComEd accounts are enrolled in the program will receive only one bill from ComEd. It will include the electric supply charges from FirstEnergy Solutions. ComEd will continue to charge for delivery.
Electric Aggregation Program FAQs
How can I enroll in the program?
You need do nothing if you have an eligible resident or small commercial electric account; you will automatically be enrolled unless you opt out.
What is an eligible resident or small commercial account?
Any resident who is currently with ComEd and has not already switched to an Alternate Retail Electric Supplier (ARES) or who is not enrolled in a special Residential Real-Time Pricing (RRTP) program is eligible, and small commercial accounts are eligible. You must also have a residence or business located in the Village of Hawthorn Woods.
What is a “small commercial account?”
A small commercial account is defined by the ICC as a commercial account using under 15,000 kWh per year.
What if I don’t want to be in the program?
You may opt out before the program begins. All eligible resident and small commercial ratepayers will receive an opt out notice. They must sign and return the notice as directed within the letter within the 14-day opt out period if they do not wish to be in the program. Otherwise, they will automatically be enrolled.
I am located in Hawthorn Woods’ Village limit, have already switched to another ARES, but would like to join the program. Can I do this?
Yes. Contact FES directly at 888-651-5200 to enroll. You are advised to check your current contract to review any early termination fees for which you may be liable. You may wait for your current contract to expire before enrolling in the aggregation program. You may join the program at any time during the one-year contract, for no fee.
Why is the Village doing this?
A Municipal Electric Aggregation Program was approved by voters in a November 6, 2012 referendum allowing the Village to seek pricing from an ICC- licensed alternative electric supplier.
Are other municipalities doing this?
Yes. Over 650 Illinois municipalities have undertaken an aggregation program, representing approximately 80 percent of the State’s population.
What is the current ComEd rate?
The current non-summer ComEd rate as of March 2014 is 6.023 cents per kWh. This includes a fixed charge of 5.523 cents (includes supply and transmission services) plus a variable Purchase Energy Adjustment (PEA), of 0.5 cents. This rate can vary every month. These items are listed separately on the ComEd bill; program participants receive just one single fixed rate of 5.48.
Will I get two bills, one from ComEd and another from the new supplier?
No. ComEd will continue to bill you for electric supply, delivery and taxes. They will pass the monies you pay for the energy supply to FES. ComEd will retain the fees you pay for delivery.
Will that affect my ComEd electric service?
No. ComEd has not generated electricity since 2007. A government agency, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) has contracted your electric supply for you. You are free to select a lower-cost supplier.
Whom do I call if I have service problems?
Call ComEd with reports of outages or downed power lines at 800-334-7661. For questions about your supply, you can call the customer service number for FES. This is listed under “Electric Supply Services” on your ComEd bill.
How will I know if I am saving money?
Your new supplier’s rate will be clearly stated on your ComEd bill along with the customer service number. Subtract that number from the ComEd rate of 5.48 cents. The difference, multiplied by your kWh usage for the month, is the dollar amount you are saved that month.
Will the new FES rate change?
The rate is fixed for three years with an option for residents to leave at any time with no early termination fee. The Village may back to bid for new rates when this term expires. You will automatically be included in the program again unless you choose to opt out.
I am on ComEd’s residential space heating rat. How do I benefit? As of June 2013, the special space heat rate program has been discontinued. The rate is now the same as the non-space heat rate.
If I am automatically enrolled in the program now, can I leave the program at any time?
Yes, you may leave the program and move your account back to ComEd or another ARES, and at no early termination fee.
What is ComEd’s 12-month “stay” requirement?
Please note ComEd regulation prohibiting customers from switching accounts frequently. If your account was with an ARES and you moved back to ComEd more than two months ago, you are under a 12-month “stay” and may not switch to a new supplier for that period.
If you are automatically enrolled in the Village’s aggregation program, and later switch back to ComEd, you must switch to a new supplier within two months or you will be subject to that 12-month stay.
If you have never chosen a supplier and choose to opt out of the aggregation program, you are not under a 12-month stay and may switch to another supplier at any time.
Who is the new supplier?
FirstEnergy Solutions is a wholly owned subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp, an Akron, Ohio based, NYSE-listed company, symbol FE. FES is certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission as an Alternate Retail Electric Supplier in the State of Illinois. FirstEnergy has significant experience in municipal aggregations for electricity, serving over 1.5 million residential accounts across several states.
I am enrolled in low-income assistance program. Will that be affected?
No. If you currently receive assistance via PIPP or LIHEAP, that status will not change and you can continue to get these benefits for your ComEd bill.
I’m on ComEd’s budget billing plan. Will that change?
No, you will remain on the budget-billing plan.
Can I still have my payment automatically deduced from my checking account as I do now?
Yes. The way you pay your ComEd bill will not change.
What if the ComEd rate drops below the Village’s contracted rate at some future time?
The Village of Hawthorn Woods entered into a contract with FES that offers a fixed rate for three years. Should the ComEd rate drop below the Village’s rate, ratepayers may leave the program and move back to ComEd at any time—for no early termination fee.
Will someone come to my home or call to sign me up?
No. You need do nothing to automatically be enrolled in the program. If someone contacts you, requesting your ComEd account number and claims to be representing the Hawthorn Woods program, please report such activity to Village Hall or file a complaint with the ICC at http://www.icc.illinois.gov/consumer/complaint.
Will ComEd’s viability be threatened by the loss of all these accounts?
No. Since 2007, ComEd no longer generates electricity but continues to earn fees for delivery of electricity.
Will ComEd raise its rates?
ComEd must request a rate hike from State of Illinois regulators. The supplier you select has no impact on ComEd’s delivery rates.
What happens if I move?
If you stay within the Village limits, you can remain in the aggregation program, however, you must call FES to enroll at your new location, as no account is automatically included after the initial opt out period ends. Residents moving into the community after the program begins will not be automatically enrolled, but may contact FES to receive the Hawthorn Woods rate. There is no fee to enroll.
How is the Village able to get such low rates?
By combining the purchasing power of all residents and small commercial accounts, the Village of Hawthorn Woods negotiated rates lower than residents can achieve when switching individually to a new supplier.
Is my electric supply at greater risk now that deregulation has opened markets to multiple suppliers?
No. ComEd remains the Provider of Last Resort (POLR), and is required to deliver electricity.
Will my utility tax decrease?
The aggregation program has no impact on your utility tax due. You are taxed on energy usage in kilowatt-hours, not the dollar cost of supply.
Does the energy supply include any renewable “green” energy sources?
Yes. Your energy supply meets, at minimum, the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is eight percent for the “Energy Year” 2013-2014 (June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014). That minimum increases every year through 2025. Thus a portion of your electric supply is sourced from renewable resources such as solar and wind and may be represented through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
Does the Village receive any monies for having undertaking this program?
No. The Village of Hawthorn Woods has worked to bring this program to benefit residents and small business owners and receives no payment from FirstEnergy Solutions. The Illinois Commerce Commission offers more information about energy deregulation in Illinois and energy supply choices at
www.pluginillinois.org. For questions about your electric account, or to enroll in the FirstEnergy Solutions program, do not call Village Hall. Contact FES at 888-651-5200, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central time.
If you require additional assistance, call NIMEC at 800-727-3820 to leave your question and callback number. You will be contacted within 24 hours regarding the issue.
To report an electrical outage, for assistance with meter readings, or for questions pertaining to your ComEd bill, call ComEd at 800-334-7661.
Village Board Approves Electric Aggregation Plan of Operations and Governance
The Hawthorn Woods Village Board formally adopted the electric aggregation Governance on November 27, 2012. Village staff is now coordinating the bid process with the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative, or NIMEC.
As outlined in the Plan of Operations and Governance, the Village will select a rate for electric supply from a qualified provider. The Village Board has agreed that the Village will not take a municipal contribution from the winning supplier in order to pass 100 percent of the savings on to the residents. Additionally, the Village Board has decided that there will be no fee to opt in or opt out of the aggregation program. This means that residents can enter the program at no cost and will not be charged if they leave the program for a more attractive electricity supplier.
Once the bid process is completed and the new rate is chosen, all residents who use ComEd as their electricity supplier will receive two opt out notices in the mail that outline the rate for the Village program and explain how residents can opt out. No action is required for residents who wish to participate.
Residents currently with an electric supplier other than ComEd are advised to first check with their supplier to determine what, if any, early termination fee they may be subject to. Then they can decide if they wish to pay that fee, or wait until their contract expires. Then, once the opt-out process has started, these residents should call the toll-free service number of the winning supplier and ask to be enrolled and specifically ask for the Hawthorn Woods aggregation rate and terms.
Once the new supplier has been selected and the new rate determined, more specific information about the process will become available. No action is required at this time on the part of residents.
Voters Approve Electric Aggregation
Hawthorn Woods voters on November 6 approved the municipal electric aggregation ballot measure. According to the Lake County Clerk’s Office, the unofficial vote tally was 2,457, or 63.6 percent, voting in favor of electric aggregation and 1,406, or 36.4%, voting against the measure.
Before the aggregation program begins, all residents will receive two opportunities to opt out of the program following the approval of the Plan of Operation and Governance, which will outline the procedure.
Municipal electric aggregation allows municipalities to pool residential and small commercial retail customers together to seek bids with the objective of securing lower electric rates than the rate paid by ComEd customers that is set by the Illinois Power Agency. By creating these economies of scale, a community can leverage the buying power of thousands of residents and small businesses in an effort to obtain a lower price for the supply of electricity.
What is Electric Aggregation?
Municipal electric aggregation allows municipalities to pool residential and small commercial retail customers together to seek bids with the objective of securing lower electric rates than the rate paid by ComEd customers that is set by the Illinois Power Agency. By creating these economies of scale, a community can leverage the buying power of thousands of residents and small businesses in an effort to obtain a lower price for the supply of electricity. There are two main components to electricity: supply and distribution. As a result of deregulation of the electric supply market in Illinois, ComEd no longer generates or supplies electricity, but simply delivers electricity to homes and businesses through its infrastructure and power lines. ComEd has not been a supplier of electricity since 2007. With aggregation, a municipality can seek a lower price for the supply of electricity with alternative suppliers; however, ComEd would, by law, continue to distribute electricity to consumers through its infrastructure.
What makes this possible now?
In 2009, the State of Illinois amended the Illinois Power Agency Act with Public Act 96-0716 to provide for the municipal aggregation of electricity. Commercial accounts were enjoying significant savings on their electric supply, but few residents had switched to lower-cost suppliers. This Act enabled municipalities across Illinois to seek lower rates for its entire community. The objective was to drive rates lower by pooling together the larger electric load across an entire community. Residents were previously able to purchase electricity from an alternate supplier but the savings was not as significant.
What is the process for Electric Aggregation?
In order for the Village to create a municipal aggregation program, a referendum must be approved by a majority of voters. The Village Board approved a resolution at the July 16, 2012, Village Board meeting providing for the referendum question to appear on the November 6, 2012. Voters approved this referendum question. Now that the referendum has been approved, the Village can solicit proposals from suppliers who are licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission as alternative retail electric suppliers in the State of Illinois. Proposals are reviewed, and the Village determines if and with whom it will enter into an agreement for energy supply. If favorable pricing does not exist, the Village will not enter into an agreement, and accounts would remain at the IPA-set rate at ComEd. Based on the timing of the above process, a Village aggregation program would not become effective until early 2013.
How will this affect me?
Once an aggregation program is created, all residents and small businesses will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they "opt-out." Before the aggregation program begins, all residents would receive two opportunities to opt out of the program. The winning supplier would send an opt-out notice to all eligible residential and small commercial accounts. Unless the account holder responded to the notice, the account would automatically be enrolled at the lower rate. This opt out notice would include details about the rate, the term, the savings versus the IPA-set rate and the term. Residents would later receive notice from ComEd that their account was to be moved to the new supplier. Residents would again have the opportunity to opt out of the program.
Regardless of whichever option residents and businesses chose, ComEd remains the utility provider delivering electricity to homes and businesses. Residents would continue to receive one ComEd bill that would include the supply charges from the new lower-cost supplier, and residents would continue to be encouraged to call ComEd in case of an outage or service need. The only difference would be a change in the supply rate of the electricity bill.
Links to more information