Community Choice Aggregation
On March 20, 2012 residents of the City of Darien passed a
referendum authorizing the City of Darien to negotiate with electric
suppliers to provide electricity for the City of Darien. The City of
Darien held public hearings to discuss the program, and passed a Plan of
Governance to ensure Darien followed proper procedures and gave
residents an opportunity to review the governance of the plan. These
electric suppliers are different than ComEd because they provide
electric generation through the use of coal, natural gas, nuclear power,
wind, solar, and other sources, while ComEd is responsible only for the
poles, lines, and physical infrastructure. The City of Darien went to
bid and received responses from nine different suppliers, with Direct
Energy providing a bid giving Darien the lowest electric supply charge
in the State of Illinois at that time. The City of Darien entered into a
contract with Direct Energy for two years at .0454 per kilowatt hour,
which is approximately 40% less than the current ComEd rate. In
addition, residents can enter or leave the program individually at any
time throughout the contract without a penalty or fee.
Letters have been mailed from both Direct Energy and ComEd to
advise residents of the changeover. If you would like to call and
cancel, the telephone number for Direct Energy is (866) 760-6040. If you
have any questions on the program, please contact Paul Nosek at (630)
Community Choice Aggregation
Darien City Council recently passed an Ordinance placing a question
on the upcoming March election ballot. The referendum question is “Shall
the City of Darien have the authority to arrange for the supply of
electricity for its residential and small commercial retail customers
who have not opted out of such a program?” Prior to the referendum,
residents will of course have questions. The following Q & A attempts to
answer many of those questions.
Question: How can the City purchase power at a potentially
Answer: Deregulation allows the City to shop
for power and purchase in bulk for our customers at a lower price.
Question: Who will take care of my power if there is an
Answer: ComEd, by law, will still be paid to
distribute the power to the homes and businesses and handle any
Question: What if I don’t want to
participate in the program?
Answer: Residents will have
multiple opportunities to “opt out” of the program, which will be your
right by law.
Question: How do I opt-out of the program?
Answer: Customers will have a few chances to opt-out of the
aggregation program, but must do so before the City service begins.
Customers will receive notice from ComEd informing them of the opt-out
period, who to contact, and how they must communicate their intention to
opt-out. The Illinois Commerce Commission has yet to determine the
course of action to be taken if a customer who opted out, decides to
rejoin the Community Choice Aggregation option at a later date.
Question: What happens if the City cannot purchase or negotiate
lower rates than ComEd?
Answer: Your account would stay
at ComEd and ComEd would be both the power provider and the local
distribution company. Either way, ComEd will be our distributor. By
voting yes on the referendum, Com Ed will then have to compete with
power suppliers from throughout the Midwest to provide our power.
Question: Why is this opportunity available?
Answer: This is the last part of the Deregulation Process. Until
this Act was amended, only larger customers such as industrial,
commercial, and governmental entities could participate. Three fourths
of this commercial load is currently purchased from sources other than
Question: Why is the City of Darien doing this?
Answer: The City does not profit from this. We, as a
governmental organization, are trying to take advantage of the new law
to benefit our residents and small business and save them money.
Question: I am currently enrolled in ComEd’s budget program
where you are able to spread out your ComEd electric service costs
evenly throughout the year. Will the new power provider have this or a
Answer: The City will request that this
program is included in the bid specs.
happens if the new power provider cannot meet its demand? Will we see
brownouts? Would there be a surcharge to cover the costs of getting
power from another supplier?
Answer: In the unlikely
event that a supplier could not deliver the contracted power, ComEd
would provide and deliver power to the City residents. The Illinois
Commerce Commission reviews all power suppliers to ensure that they can
meet the demand. NIMEC and other energy consultants continue to work
with the Illinois Power Agency and the ICC to adopt rules which will
alleviate these concerns.
Question: If aggregation means
lower energy costs for customers, won’t ComEd simply increase charges on
the distribution side to protect its profit margin?
Answer: ComEd owns the distribution system only, and so does not realize
profits or losses from the sale of energy. ComEd has worked for several
years with large commercial and industrial customers who have switched
to third-party energy suppliers, and remains supportive of other
customers who switch to third-party suppliers. In other words, there
will be no impact on distribution rates, Per ICC regulations, ComEd
cannot introduce any separate distribution fees on cities that
Once again the City of Darien does not profit from Community
Choice Aggregation. We, as a governmental organization, are trying to
take advantage of the new law to benefit our residents and small
business and save them money.