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FirstEnergy plans polar vortex surcharge on suburban electric bills

Residents of Rockford and 97 other municipalities in northern Illinois will be charged extra on their electric bills to cover unexpected costs incurred during the polar vortex by their supplier, FirstEnergy Solutions.

Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy has contracts to supply electricity to about 180 villages and cities in Commonwealth Edison Co.’s service territory. It is by far the largest area supplier to seek to pass through the financial pain tied to the unusually harsh cold snap in January, when energy costs briefly spiked. Rockford is the state’s third-largest city, after Chicago and Aurora.

A FirstEnergy spokeswoman said the surcharge will affect 220,000 of its 670,000 Illinois customers.


Towns pay a high price for power.

Investing in a massive coal-burning power plant in southern Illinois has saddled some towns with similarly large electricity rates

Across the nation, cities are taking advantage of deals for cheaper electricity made possible by low-cost natural gas. But not in five Chicago suburbs and more than 200 other Midwestern towns that made a big bet on coal.

Almost every month, Batavia, Geneva, Naperville, St. Charles and Winnetka are among dozens of municipalities feeling the sting of their decisions to finance the Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois.

The promised savings simply have not materialized.


Why Alternatives to ComEd Are No Longer a Great Deal.

Two years after suburbs began generating huge savings on their residents’ electric bills by contracting with alternative suppliers to Commonwealth Edison Co., many municipalities whose deals are expiring are struggling to attract decent offers. A few towns are sending their constituents back to ComEd, and others are signing deals at prices higher than ComEd’s rate.

Meanwhile, the city of Chicago, which late last year negotiated the nation’s largest such contract with Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services, already has seen its electricity price increase by 3 percent to 5.59 cents per kilowatt-hour from 5.42 cents. Integrys’ price change, which passed through transmission costs outside of the supplier’s control and is permitted under its contract, puts Chicago slightly above the 5.51 cents per kilowatt-hour ComEd customers are paying.


The Real Truth About Municipal Aggregation: What the Brokers Do Not Want You to Know.

• AGGREGATION IS NOT A GUARANTEE FOR THE BEST RATE: Just because residents are in an aggregated community, this does not mean they are receiving the best rate. Rates vary from town to town, and supplier to supplier. Add: ‘Within a short period of time many towns in Illinois now have rates higher than those offered by the utility, or by other 3rd party suppliers. The residents of Illinois towns like: Crest Hill, Fulton, Fox River Grove, Glenwood, North Aurora, Oak Park, Riddott, Sugar Grove, West Brooklyn, Wood Dale, and numerous others are now (already) paying higher rates than they would have if they had stayed with the utility. Link to article from Crains




Before we begin… ah, what exactly is municipal electricity aggregation, you may be wondering? Of course, anything with that long of a title must involve the government in some fashion. That part we get. To clarify, municipal aggregation is when a community bands together all of its residents and agrees to purchase electricity supply as a group, with the hope of achieving a lower rate than if the individual were to buy it on their own. Think “Groupon for electricity.” It’s a pretty straightforward concept, though the execution of it could prove to be rather complex.  >> READ MORE

Download PDF file: The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Municipal Electricity Aggregation


So, if you live in any of the suburbs surrounding Chicago, you’ve probably at least heard the term municipal aggregation, if you’re not already knee-deep in it. In case you’re not aware, it’s essentially when the residents of a community band together, or aggregate, and purchase electricity as a group (and often through an energy broker) to receive a better rate. While we’re generally supportive of anything related to switching electricity suppliers for the purpose of achieving lower rates, we’re withholding judgment on municipal aggregations until a few more facts come to light. (Though we’re bordering on the side of skeptical.) Here are five things that merit an eyebrow-raise:


Download PDF file: Municipal Aggregation in Illinois_ 5 Things You Should Not Ignore

“The Truth About Aggregation – What The Politicians Don’t Know… and The Aggregators DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW”


Citizens Against Municipal Aggregation

Dear   (Mayor)   (Freeholder)

We are writing you to let you know our position on Municipal Governments acting as “middle men” in the energy aggregation industry.

Initially, all the information on the internet, as well as the pitch made by “energy consultants” seem to paint a positive outlook on this newest governmental business venture.  However, after a more detailed analysis we have discovered the following:


Download PDF file: CamaDoc_070313 Final edit

To Understand Wind Energy’s Troubles, Look To Broadwind’s Cicero Factory

Increasing revenues, unprofitability, and an uncertain future threaten Broadwind and its 200-person workforce.

Broadwind Energy, an industrial and wind energy gear company based in Cicero, exemplifies Illinois’ choppy wind power landscape.

The company is seeing a resurgence in manufacturing and has grown into one of the biggest players nationally in the wind power components industry.

“We are creating good-paying manufacturing jobs and putting older facilities in urban areas like Cicero to productive use,” says President and CEO Peter Duprey.

Yet Broadwind’s gearing-business workforce of about 200 machine operators, whose pay reaches $25 an hour, is less than half that during the wind energy market’s peak in Fall 2008, and the wind power industry in general continues to compete with oil and gas projects that offer bigger returns.


City selects Integrys Energy Services as lone electricity supplier

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration on Friday chose Integrys Energy Services to serve as the lone supplier of electricity to 2.7 million Chicago customers and projected an initial savings of up to 25 percent.dt.common.streams.StreamServer

The mayor chose to replace one monopoly, Commonwealth Edison, with another because Integrys offered the “lowest price margin,” the city said, projecting that the average Chicago household would save $25 or “20-to-25 percent” from February through June.

By the time the Integrys contract expires in May, 2015, Chicago households will save $130-to-$150 or eight-to-twelve percent of their current bills.


How ComEd defections are killing green power in Illinois

Chicago’s recent move to join more than 100 suburbs in allowing residents to buy cheaper power than that offered by Commonwealth Edison Co. could kill the construction of any more wind farms or other large-scale renewable-energy facilities in Illinois, clean-energy companies say.

Two major state energy laws have combined in an unanticipated fashion to make new wind farms and large-scale solar facilities impossible to finance. One requires an increasing percentage of the power consumed here to come from clean sources. The other allows municipalities to buy cheap electricity in bulk on behalf of their constituents.


Rivals undercutting city’s electricity deal with Integrys

The city of Chicago lowered residents’ electric bills with its landmark deal last month to buy in bulk from an alternative supplier to Commonwealth Edison Co., but that doesn’t mean city households can’t get even cheaper rates.

Competitors already are offering residents and small businesses lower prices than the city negotiated with Integrys Energy Services, the Chicago-based supplier that won the two-year deal to serve nearly 1 million households and small businesses.

Chicago-based MC Squared Energy Services LLC is offering $5.19 per kilowatt-hour, 4 percent cheaper than the city’s $5.42 deal with Integrys. For customers who use electricity to heat their units, many of them in downtown high-rises, MC Squared is offering $4.75 per kilowatt-hour, 12 percent less than the Integrys deal.


Experts: Chicago aggregation could hurt renewable energy — unless the RPS is fixed

chicago-power-lines-425x304In November, Chicago residents will vote on whether to allow the city to break with utility ComEd and negotiate to buy electricity from alternative retail electric suppliers (or ARES) for residential and small business customers.

The move could save ratepayers money, and many see it as a statement of environmental consciousness and independence – a chance to intentionally buy from smaller suppliers that promise they are providing renewable energy.


Chicago can’t beat ComEd price — so raise it?

The city of Chicago is asking the state to change its method of buying power for utility customers in a way that almost certainly would hike electricity rates for those still getting their electricity from Commonwealth Edison Co.AR-130919753

The move, also endorsed by retail power suppliers, would make it easier for the city’s supplier, Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services, to beat ComEd’s rates when its contract with the city comes up for renewal in May. But it likely would boost electric bills in large suburbs like Joliet and Waukegan whose constituents have rejected referendums that would have allowed their city officials to buy power on their behalf from outside suppliers.


N.J. power companies’ three-card monte: Opinion

By Michael Strugatz

Imagine one morning you woke up and someone had switched your cable TV provider and changed your internet or phone service, all without your permission. What’s even more disconcerting: Your local government did it.

You probably would be angry and mystified if this happened to you. But nothing like that can happen in New Jersey. Right? Wrong.

Something very similar is happening right now. Municipalities are signing up tens of thousands of home­own­ers for contracts with new electricity providers without their knowledge or permission. It’s happened in Toms River and Plumsted, and it’s about to happen in Brick, Montgomery Township and elsewhere.


Didn’t pick electricity provider? Supplier may be picked for you

By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: October 27, 2013

The 3.6 million Pennsylvania utility customers who have not picked a competitive power supplier may have the decision taken out of their hands.

Legislation promoted by electricity marketing firms would eliminate the system in which incumbent utilities such as Peco Energy Co. provide default service for customers who don’t shop.

Under the proposed system, default-service customers would be assigned by an auction process to competitive suppliers. About 1.1 million Peco customers, mostly residential, would be affected.



FirstEnergy Penalized $43.3 Million for Overcharging Customers

Company overpriced renewable energy credits purchased from affiliate company

Home – Blogs – Staff Blogs

August 8th, 2013 By Hannah McCartney | News | Posted In: EnergyEnvironmentEthicsNews

first energy.nar

On Wednesday the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio unanimously ruled that Akron, Ohio-based energy supplier FirstEnergy Corp. must credit its Ohio customers $43.3 million for overcharging for renewable energy credits (RECs) from 2009-2011 that it purchased from its affiliate, FirstEnergy Solutions.

RECs are tradable, non-tangible energy credits that represent proof that one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity has been sourced from an eligible renewable energy resource. First Energy Solutions is an energy generator and supplier, while First Energy Corp. is an electricity distributor, which means that it sources its electricity from elsewhere, which requires them to issue bids seeking the most competitively priced energy from a supplier such as First Energy Solutions.



Chicago electric bills to rise up to 18% in June under new Integrys deal

meter1By    March 09, 2014

Residential electric bills in Chicago will increase roughly 14 to 18 percent in June under a new deal the city has struck with its power supplier, Integrys Energy Services.

That follows an increase in January thanks to higher delivery charges by Commonwealth Edison Co.

But, despite the significant increase to come, the city predicts customers will continue to save modestly over the even-higher power supply rates they expect ComEd to charge beginning in June. Electric bills are divided between charges for delivery, which is handled by ComEd, and supply, which can be done by ComEd or other companies.

The city struck its new deal last week with Chicago-based Integrys, which currently provides electricity to 720,000 Chicago households and small businesses. Rates will rise about 14 percent for units in multifamily buildings and 18 percent for single-family homes. The pact runs through May 2015.



New survey raises questions about electric aggregation


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