Nearly two-thirds of Illinois towns with municipal aggregation programs have gotten their citizens better electric rates than Evanston provides.

With 385 towns now participating in the municipal aggregation program, rates range from a low of 3.909 cents per kilowatt hour achieved by 16 communities to a lonely high of 6.23 cents for Fulton in western Illinois.

Evanston’s rate is 4.797 cents per kilowatt hour.

The statewide data is compiled by the PlugInIllinois website maintained by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Evanston’s decision to opt for 100 percent renewable energy for its power supply had relatively little impact on the cost. Constellation New Energy, the winning bidder in Evanston, offered a price for the least-green available supply just one-tenth of a cent less.

But in the overall ranking of communities, without the renewable energy component Evanston’s price would have moved from being worse than 65 percent of towns to worse than 54 percent — because so many communities were tightly bunched around the midpoint of the price distribution.

Evanston is about to go out to bids to renew its aggregation program, and Monday night the City Council voted to make some changes to the bid request.

They opted to seek contract terms for any period from 12 to 36 months, rather than only 12 or 24 months.

They added more flexibility to the renewable energy credits option — seeking bids for any percentage mix, rather than just 75 or 100 percent as was done last year.

And they added a new option for some percentage of energy directly generated by a renewable source, rather than through the energy credits program.

There was no discussion by aldermen Monday of how the city might tune its request to get the most favorable rate, but at the time of last year’s bidding, prices for longer contracts were higher than for the minimum 12 month period.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Aggregation Savings

    A little more context:

    There's a considerable difference in aggregated electric rates between customers in the ComEd region (northern Illinois) and those in Ameren territory (downstate).   ComEd: 4.9 cents/kWh average.  Ameren: 4.1 cents/kWh average. So compared to communities in our neck of the woods, Evanston's price is better than average; in fact we're in the 64th percentile. And that with 100% renewable energy, which as Bill indicates has had little impact on cost.

    Regardless of ranking, it's important to note that community aggregation has saved Evanston residents quite a bit of money–the 4.797 cents per kWh we're paying now is 42% less than the 8.302 cents per kWh we would otherwise be paying.  This will save the average Evanston house about $260 a year, collectively well over $5 million for our community.

    -Jonathan Nieuwsma

  2. Aggregation Savings

    Adding some additional context to Jonathan's apt reminders:

    1. Obtaining pricing for electricity or natural gas is a time sensitive endeavor. Fulton was early in this process and the marketplace for retail electric energy at that time made their 6.23 cents an attractive proposition, certainly lower than the standard pricing that ComEd could offer. By the time Evanston and others were able to participate, a different markeplace prevailed, enabling Evanston residents to enjoy greater savings.

    2. Obtaining pricing through a bid process allows you to pick from the suppliers who actually submit an offer. Typically, you have a handful of responsive bids from which to choose.  The marketplace is also competitive and bid pricing from suppliers for energy frequently varies within a narrow range. That's how you get your price.

    Because this transition represents a big step form the old way of doing things, getting acclimated to the process takes some time.  You can wait, hoping for a better price, or you can start your savings sooner.  This is the nature of the beast and it will continue.  We'll get used to it.

    – Joel Freeman

  3. A little more

    A little more context.

    Evanston leaders need to change contract terms that place vulnerable Evanston households at risk under the current supply contract.  The current contract allows the current supplier to perform any of the following without notice to or prior approval from the City:

    1.  Disallow residents from access to the program on the basis of their credit rating.  This could prevent the poorest households (the ones that need the low aggregation price the most) from receviing a benefit made available to everyone else.

    2.  Convert consumers from a single monthly bill to a dual bill.  This could be more than an annoyance.  Converting consumers that receive Percentage of Income Payment Plan (i.e. low income households) benefits to a dual bill arrangement could lose those benefits.  Again, why is the City making life more challenging for vulnerable households?

    3.  Cancel program participation on the basis of payment history.  Not only is this unfair (ComEd actually bears the risk of non-payment by consumers), but pushing residents out of the program could force those resiendts to stay with the high ComEd default rate for up to 12 months.  Yet again, why does the City allow terms that are potentially harmful to poorer families?

    4.  Change the price.  The supplier can increase the contract price under to vaguely defined circumstances without providing notice to the City or the residents.  The supplier is under no obligation to demonstrate that their costs actually have increased to justify a price change.

    Usually, communities that agree to lousy contract terms get a discount.  It appears that the City negotiated away consumer protections without getting any benefit.

  4. Constellation Energy rates

    This article states Evanston rates at $04.797 however I just called to switch from my current electricity supplier to Constellation and was give a rate of $05.497. Anybody know why this is?

    1. Constellation rates

      Hi Shirley- I’m an official representative for Constellation. Constellation has non-aggregation rates in COMED territory and that may be the rate you were given.  Please contact our customer care team at 877.997.9995 and we can get you switched over to the Evanston Aggregation plan.

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