Beside savings, bills won’t look too different with Integrys
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter email@example.com December 8, 2012 4:22PM
Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:41AM
Your energy bill won’t look too different if Integrys Energy Services becomes Chicago’s supplier. And a consumer advocacy group says you’ll be saving money, as the city promises, for at least a few months.
The mayor on Friday chose Integrys to supply electricity to city customers, vowing that they will save between 20 to 25 percent between February and June next year.
The company is not releasing its supply rates until the City Council approves the legislation this week. But the savings are in comparison to ComEd’s 8.32 cents per kilowatt hour supply rate, which is set to drop in June.
Jim Chilsen, director of the Citizens Utility Board, said he’s encouraged the contract would require Integrys to beat or match ComEd’s new rates and would also not charge customers an exit fee if they’d prefer another energy supplier.
“CUB is optimistic that the City of Chicago seems to have structured a deal that secures savings for consumers and also protects them from the possibility of ComEd’s rates dropping significantly in June of 2013,” Chilsen said.
Customers on traditional rates will be automatically switched to Integrys and will be given two options to opt out. One option will be when an initial letter is sent out by the city, while another will be when the utility company sends out a letter. If approved, Integrys will begin supplying energy to Chicago in February or March, at the latest. That means guaranteed savings until at least June.
Customers’ bills will still be coming from ComEd, if residents don’t already have an alternative supplier. And the only difference will be the name of the energy supplier within the bills. Other communities Integrys has already serviced have included a separate letter describing the energy use. ComEd will still handle delivery and service, and will also handle payments. And if the power goes out, Chicago customers would still call ComEd.
“There’s no 1-800 number you’ll have to call, and you won’t have to sign up. You won’t have to have someone come out, flip a switch and install special equipment if you want to participate,” Chilsen said.
Still, Chilsen is warning potential new customers to be weary of anyone knocking on the door to make a sales pitch about competing energy companies: “People should know that the man coming to your door has nothing to do with municipal aggregation,” Chilsen said. “You can find out what price and compare what Integrys and ComEd are offering and make your own decisions, but you should just know that company has nothing to do with municipal aggregation.”
Integrys Energy Services is non-regulated, which is why the company is able to offer savings, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Block. The energy supply is separate from Integrys’ regulated natural gas and electric utilities, which include Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas.
Block said customers will notice savings after ComEd’s supply drop in June, “but it just won’t be as extreme as they are now.”
She said the company’s goal is to provide consumers with the greatest chance to save, “and that’s what we’ve been saying from day one.”