With no discernable difference in electric rates between alternative and traditional suppliers, River Forest has become another community returning to the ComEd fold for residential and small business customers.
Trustees’ unanimous vote on July 12 to end the village’s agreement with MC Squared Energy Services means that customers will return to Commonwealth Edison for their electric supply when the contract the alternative supplier signed with River Forest expires in September.
Last May, trustees approved an extension of its agreement with Constellation Energy Services, for three months, until September, while it looked at prices from alternative energy suppliers. The village then signed a contract with MC Squared that would remain in effect until September 2016.
But the energy giant has become more cost-competitive. “Since coming out of its contract with the state of Illinois, [Commonwealth Edison] has gotten much better at their rates. This makes complete sense,” Village President Catherine Adduci.
When it was originally approved, community choice aggregation was staked on the notion that the village would act on behalf of its people by bundling lots of electric accounts and seeking bids for electricity on the open market. That would lower the price of energy for customers who signed on.
When communities statewide began signing on, there was a wide swing in costs per kilowatt hour — 8 to 9 cents for ComEd vs. 4-5 cents for alternate power suppliers. The benefit to River Forest residents was huge; as much as $1.2 million had been saved by aggregation.
Since then, Commonwealth Edison has adjusted its rate lower to meet market demand. Last year, the village revisited the agreement to assess the rates.
The utility giant’s kilowatt per hour rate from now until September ranges from 5.69 to 5.59 cents and will range from 5.808 cents to 6.808 cents from October to May 2017. That does not include the purchased electricity adjustment charge, a credit or a charge of .5 cents per kilowatt hour to 1 cent that can result in monthly price swings of up to 1 cent per kilowatt hour, according to a memo included in the packet for the most recent board meeting.
Since September 2015, the village’s rate per kilowatt hour has remained at 6.690 cents whereas Commonwealth Edison’s rate during the same time period ranged between 6.798 in May 2016 to a low of 6.487 cents in January.
“There is not a consistency for the village to continue because there isn’t much of a difference,” Village Administrator Eric Palm said.
A community choice aggregation program, which was approved by voters in 2012, is still in existence and can be revisited if the market changes or something else happens, Palm added.
The village will send residents notices about the change and post information on the website; Commonwealth Edison also will send out notices to residents, Palm said.