CHAMPAIGN (AP) – Some communities are reconsidering where they get electricity after learning that Ameren Illinois will implement two rate decreases this year.
Ameren likely will drop electric-supply rates about 7 percent next month, on top of a decrease scheduled for October, meaning the utility might offer better prices than some alternative suppliers, The Champaign News-Gazette reported Monday.
Hundreds of Illinois communities adopted aggregation, which allows them to bundle residential and small business customers to buy cheaper electricity in bulk from smaller suppliers. But Ameren’s proposed default rate for June through September is lower than what many cities brokered, and the rate taking effect in October is even lower.
Champaign plans to put its aggregation program on hold for at least a year, and its 26,000 customers will be switched automatically to Ameren if they do nothing. Those who don’t want to switch to Ameren have 60 days after the program expires to find their own supplier.
But customers in nearby Urbana automatically will stay on the municipal rate negotiated under aggregation unless they choose to switch to Ameren. They may drop out of the program without penalty.
Urbana considered its sustainability goals when deciding to keep its program, because it bought renewable-energy credits to offset 100 percent of its electric use, said Mike Monson, chief of staff for Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing.
Experts say customers’ overall bill might not change much if they switch to Ameren, because the rate decreases are for electric supply, not for the utility’s costs to deliver it. Delivery rates are increasing to help pay for a 10-year project to modernize the electric grid. Savings in electricity costs could be offset by increased delivery costs.
Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com