Residents of the Windy City pay more than most for electricity. Some of this is due to higher consumption, but Chicagoans also pay higher rates than the average American.
Fortunately, Chicago has a deregulated electricity market, whereby residents and businesses can shop around for lower rates. Deregulation has been in place since 1997 in Illinois, but many consumers of electricity have yet to take advantage of it. If you’re still buying your electricity from Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), it’s time to sign up with a new provider.
Switching retail electricity providers allows you to lock in lower rates than ComEd’s average rates – also known as the Price-to-Compare. You can find the Price-to-Compare of what you’re paying, expressed in cents per kWh, on your most recent utility bill.
Compare Chicago Electricity Providers
A myriad of retail electricity providers are available to residents and businesses in the Chicago area. Most have lower rates than ComEd, and offer both variable and fixed rate plans, various contract lengths, and other incentives to switch.
There are several things to keep in mind, in addition to low rates when comparing electricity providers and plans:
Some companies require no contract (and impose no penalties for leaving), while others want you to sign a one or two year agreement. Some providers also offer plans in 3, 6, and 18 month durations. Whatever rate structure the company is advertising, make sure you are comfortable paying it for the length of your contract. And if you’re getting a great signup bonus, double check to see if it’s worth the commitment you’re making to get it.
Rate Structure: Variable v. Fixed
Many providers offer both variable and fixed rate plans. Variable rate plans are generally month-to-month plans with rates that vary with the market prices. These plans are beneficial in that you don’t have to sign a contract, but won’t protect you from extreme rate fluctuations. Fixed plans, on the other hand, offer rates that will never change until your contract expires. Generally, you have to sign a contract and will incur penalties if you terminate your contract early.
Energy Source: Renewable v. Fossil Fuels
Before deregulation, you had no choice about the source of your power, but now you have the ability to choose. If you care about green energy, you can now choose among providers with partial and 100% renewable plans. Some providers are even offering electricity produced from natural gas which is not renewable, but has much less negative environmental impacts than traditional coal.
Sign-Up Bonuses & Other Incentives
The other opportunity for direct reward comes in the form of signup bonuses, which are offered by energy companies to attract new customers. These bonuses can be simple discounts on electricity, but you might notice other useful bonuses such as airline miles or other rewards. Other incentives include multiple bill-pay options, discounted bundling of telephone bills from local landline telephone partners, and free or discounted repair service on heaters and cooling units.
Switch Chicago Electricity Rates
Once you’ve decided on the best provider for you, switching Chicago electricity rates is easy. If you decide on a retail electricity provider by using our free Compare & Switch tool (on the right side of this page), then you can sign up online right away.
All you will need to switch is the information on your most recent utility bill, including your account number, current rate, and average electricity usage. Very little changes when you switch to a retail electricity provider. ComEd still delivers your bill, sends the electricity to your home, and maintains and repairs all electricity infrastructure (wires, poles, meters, etc.). All that really changes for you is the bill at the end of the month. Of course, you’ll want to know when your contract expires in order to avoid automatic higher prices by shopping around again.