A couple weeks ago, my office manager approached me in a huff. She showed me the office electric bill– supplied by ComEd– and was pissed in the amount of money we pay for something ComEd calls “Delivery Service,” a rate over and above the fees for the actual electricity used.
Personally, when I pay my ComEd bill– along with home phone, cell phones, internet, gas and all the other utility and tax bills I receive– I just look at the bottom line, write the check and depending on the month and bill (like Peoples’ Gas in March), seethe.
But because of my office manager’s rant, I actually looked at my ComEd bill for June. It’s not terrible– $88.50; but I did note that of that amount roughly 30% was for “Delivery Service” fees, something different from the charges for actual electricity used. ComEd’s “Delivery Service”fees include something called the “customer charge,” the “standard metering charge,” the “distribution facilities charge,” and don’t forget the “IL electricity distribution charge.”
Why I am being charged simply for being a customer? Aren’t business owners supposed to attract customers and charge them for their product, rather than charging them for being customers?
You’ve heard the saying “ignorance is bliss?” Maybe that’s why I chose just to pay my electric bill without looking at what I was actually paying. If you want to figure out what all these fees are, you can go to ComEd’s website, which will direct you to 400 pages of material. So part of being ignorant was just being plain lazy, whereas the other part was because I didn’t think I had a choice but to pay ComEd its extortionist rates.
However, that has changed– Illinois residents do have a choice on electricity suppliers. “Because it’s new, people don’t even understand that they have the right to shop,” said Scott White, the president of IGS Energy, one of the alternative suppliers of electricity in Illinois. And even if you use an alternative supplier, ComEd is still responsible for maintaining the lines and is the responsible entity when there is a power outage.
Illinois residents have a choice. There are at least nine alternative electricity suppliers operating in Illinois. The Illinois Commerce Commission recently published a comparison for electricity rates at pluginillinois.org. Go to the website to learn about the alternatives to ComEd; click “Compare Offers Now” to see rate comparisons. For single family homes, the savings can range from roughly 10-18% a month. Also use the links to the alternative supplier’s website and check out whether the rate is fixed or variable, the length of the contract and if there are early termination fees.
Presumably, once the market turns– only 88,000 residential customers in Illinois have switched from ComEd in 2011– ComEd will find it necessary to lower its rates to compete. But for those of us who actually look at the ComEd bill and are furious with the fees and even more furious about ComEd rate increases pushed through the Illinois General Assembly, this might be a way to get back at ComEd a little bit. And save a little bit of money too.