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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: 6.58 cents / kWh through February 2020 meter read cycles

Following the passage by majority vote of the 2012 Electricity Aggregation Referendum, the Village of Hawthorn Woods contracted to procure electric supply in bulk for residents and small businesses. To date, the average participating Hawthorn Woods ratepayer has saved $766 on their electric power supplier, with no impact to their service. Cumulatively, the Village has saved $1,514,800. 

The most recent three-year contract term is set to expire February 2017. The Village sought competitive bids to renew the program. FirstEnergy Solutions’ low bid was accepted for a 36-month term. The new, fixed power supply rate is 6.58¢ per kWh for the term February 2017 to February 2020. 

The default ComEd rate, as established by the Illinois Power Agency, is 6.39¢ per kWh for a three-month period during March, April and May of 2017 and thereafter will be reset June 1, 2017. The ComEd rate is anticipated to rise at that time, due to a pre-established increase in regulated capacity charges. NIMEC’s estimates for the June 2017 rate are in the upper 6-cent range; rates for 2018 are expected to climb even higher. That same capacity charge is again scheduled to rise in 2019. The FirstEnergy Solutions rate for Hawthorn Woods will remain fixed at 6.58¢ for the three-year term.

All residents and small businesses will receive notices informing them of details, terms and conditions of the renewal program and will automatically be enrolled unless they:
Choose to opt out as directed in the opt out notice; or
Have previously switched to another alternative supplier; or
Participate in a residential real-time pricing hourly-rate program

Notices will be mailed in December. Ratepayers receiving opt out notices will automatically be enrolled unless they take steps to opt out during the three-week opt out period. Ratepayers not currently participating in the Village’s program and who are enrolled with other suppliers will receive informative, opt in notices and may call FirstEnergy Solutions at (888) 651-5200 to enroll. There is never a termination fee. If ratepayers choose to leave the program, they may return (at no re-enrollment charge) after a six-month waiting period.

Residents continue to receive one bill from ComEd to include the electric supply charges from FirstEnergy. ComEd will continue to charge for delivery. The way you pay your bill, such as budget billing or automatic payment, does not change.

Program Benefits: This program presents several opportunities for residents, providing them with:
A cap above which ratepayers will not be required to pay for the three-year term
A fixed benchmark to compare with other offers
Flexibility to join or leave the program, and with no fees to switch 
A fixed, known rate vs. the ComEd base rate which is expected to increase June 2017 and again in June 2019 when higher regulated capacity charges take effect

Electric deregulation has met with great success in Illinois, saving ratepayers billions of dollars to date; Hawthorn Woods residents were paying over 9¢ per kWh for electric supply in the summer of 2010, and Illinois rates were near the highest levels in the nation in the 1990s through the early 2000s. Today, the Village of Hawthorn Woods’ electric rates are among the lowest in the nation.
 

Electric Aggregation Program FAQs

1. How can I enroll in the program?
During the initial three-week opt out period, no action is required if you have an eligible resident or small commercial electric account; you will automatically be enrolled and do not need to do anything to be a part of the municipal program unless you opt out. After the initial opt out period, any residential or small business ratepayer may enroll by calling FirstEnergy at (888) 651-5200 and asking for the Village of Hawthorn Woods aggregation program rate.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. What if I don’t want to participate in the program?
You are able to opt out before the program begins or can request to be terminated after you are enrolled. You will never be charged a fee to switch back to the default ComEd rate.

5. I am located within Hawthorn Woods Village limits, but have already switched to another supplier. Can I still join the program?
Yes. You will receive an informative notice with program details. Call FirstEnergy at (888) 651-5200 and provide them with your ComEd account number. If you are currently enrolled with another alternative supplier that is not the Village’s program, you should check your contract to understand any early termination fees to which you may be subject. You may wait for your current contract to expire and enroll with FirstEnergy at any time during the 36-month term.

6. 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.

7. Are other municipalities doing this?
Yes. Over 650 Illinois municipalities have undertaken an aggregation program, representing approximately 80 percent of the State’s population.

8. What is the current ComEd default rate?
The ComEd base rate is 6.39¢ plus or minus a monthly Purchased Electricity Adjustment (PEA) of 0.5¢ and will be reset June 2017. The ComEd default rate includes three charges: supply, transmission and PEA. For more information, visit pluginillinois.org.

9. How does the FirstEnergy rate compare with the ComEd rate under “Electric Supply Services” on my bill?
You will have one fixed FirstEnergy rate that covers both electric supply and transmission services. You are never charged a PEA by FirstEnergy.

10. Will I get two bills, one from ComEd and another from the new supplier?
No. ComEd continues to bill for electric supply, delivery and taxes. ComEd delivers electricity, and will continue to bill you, but they no longer supply it. They will pass along the fees you pay for electric supply to the new supplier.

11. Will that affect my ComEd electric service?
No. ComEd has not generated electricity since 2007. A government agency, the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) contracts electric supply for ratepayers choosing what is called the default ComEd rate. You are free to choose any supplier you wish.

12. Who do I call if I have service problems?
Always call ComEd with reports of outages or downed power lines at (800) 334-7661. For questions about your supply, call FirstEnergy at (888) 651-5200.

13. If I am automatically enrolled, can I leave the program at any time?
Yes, you may vacate the program and switch to the ComEd default rate or another supplier. FirstEnergy will never charge a penalty to leave the Hawthorn Woods program.

14. What is ComEd’s six-month “stay” or “bundled hold” requirement?
Please note state regulations that prohibit some switching. If your account was with an alternative supplier and you switch back to ComEd, you have two billing cycles in which you must move to another supplier or be subject to a six-month “bundled hold” status, during which you may not switch back to that same supplier. However, you may switch at any time to a different supplier than you just left.

15. Who is the 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.

16. I am enrolled in a low-income assistance program. Will that be affected?
No. If you currently receive assistance via PIPP or LIHEAP, your status will not change and you can continue to get these benefits for your ComEd bill.

17. Does the program impact my ComEd budget billing or auto-payment plan?
The way you pay your ComEd bill will not change.

18. Will someone come to my home or call to sign me up?
PLEASE NOTE: No one from FirstEnergy or the Village will ever visit your home or call you to enroll.
ComEd will not ask for your account number. If someone contacts you claiming to be the Village’s supplier, please report such activity to Village Hall or file a complaint with the ICC at http://www.icc.illinois.gov/consumer/complaint. You should never reveal your ComEd account number to a solicitor unless you are certain you wish to enroll with that supplier and have read all terms and conditions.

19. 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. 

20. 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.

21. 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.

22. What happens if I move? 
If you stay within the Village limits, you must call FirstEnergy to re-enroll at your new address. Residents moving into the community after the program begins will not be automatically enrolled in the program, but may enroll at any time.

23. Does the energy supply include any renewable “green” energy sources?
Yes. Your energy supply meets the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard, which is 11.5% for the energy year June 2016 to May 2017. Thus, a portion of your electric supply is sourced from renewable resources such as solar, hydro or wind, via Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

24. 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 provides additional information about energy deregulation in Illinois and energy supply choices at www.pluginillinois.org.
 

For questions about your own electric account, or to enroll in the FirstEnergy Solutions program, do not call Village Hall. Please call the Village of Hawthorn Woods' aggregation program supplier, FirstEnergy, at (888) 651-5200.
 

If you require additional assistance, call NIMEC at (800) 727-3820 to leave a message including your question and callback number.  You will be contacted within 24 hours regarding the issue. 

To report an electrical outage, or for questions pertaining to your ComEd bill, always 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 has coordinated 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.


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. 

Contact Chief Financial Officer Kristin Kazenas with any comments or questions at  or (847) 847-3590.


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. 


How will this affect me?

All residents and small businesses will be automatically enrolled in the program unless they "opt-out." Before the aggregation program begins, all residents will receive two opportunities to opt out of the program. The winning supplier sends 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.



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