Scroll down for a list of frequently asked questions and answers
Oak Park opts for all-green electricity and big savings on rates
Oct. 18, 2011 - Backing up its environmental talk with an environmental walk, Oak Park has become the first municipality in Illinois and possibly the nation to choose an all-green power program for its residents and small business operators who participate in a new community electricity aggregation program. Oak Park's Village Board last night approved a two-year contract with Chicago-based Integrys Energy Services to supply electricity and credits from 100-percent green sources like wind and solar, while still saving local customers about a 25 percent over the current state-approved electricity provider.
The cumulative savings for Oak Park consumers over the next two years is expected to be about $4.5 million.
"This contract represents another historic moment for Oak Park," said Village Manager Tom Barwin. "Oak Park has been a leader in so many important movements over the past half century, it is not surprising that our community would be a leader in fundamentally changing how we think about energy generation and consumption. To some, this may be just about saving money on one's electric bill, which is a very good thing. But to those increasingly growing numbers of individuals who recognize the need to move as quickly as possible beyond carbon-based energy generation systems toward clean, renewable energy sources, this is a significant, far-reaching step."
Integrys Energy Services Manager Brian Bowe added, “We are excited to work with Oak Park in helping to support this community aggregation program. We are particularly pleased to be able to supply Oak Park with a renewable product.”
Oak Park began the initiative in April after voters approved a referendum to authorize the Village to bundle — or aggregate — all residential and small business electric accounts and seek bids for electricity on the open market, an option many large industrial and commercial enterprises use to reduce their costs for electricity. When bids were received from half a dozen state-certified energy providers, the difference between a mix of traditional power generation sources and all-green alternatives was so small, officials said, going with the renewable option was an easy choice.
Technically, local consumers will not know the actual source of the power they are using. Once power is delivered to the distribution grid, its source can't be determined. However, Oak Park will receive renewable energy credits, as their payments fund wind-based power that is supplied to the grid.
As Villlage President David Pope explained it, “The fact that the electricity generated by wind power is being used someplace else doesn’t change the fact that Oak Parkers are responsible for getting the total amount of electricity they used added to the grid from wind-based generation sources.”
The new program is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1. Electricity still will be delivered by ComEd, which will remain responsible for customer service, such as billing and outage response. The only difference consumers will see will be a lower rate on the supply charge line item on their bill.
According to Oak Park's Sustainability Manager K.C. Poulos, all residential and small business accounts in the Village will be enrolled automatically in the program. However, each can choose to opt-out and continue to be billed at the state-approved rate for Excelon, Oak Park's current energy provider. "Given the savings under the new aggregation program, we believe the majority of customers will participate in the Village-managed system," Poulos said. "This is a great opportunity to not only save money, but do make a statement about how we, as a community, feel about helping to protect the environment for future generations and move the market in the right directions. How could anyone say no to that?"
The Village also is expected to create the state's first citizen Municipal Renewable Energy Advisory Commission to monitor implementation of the electricity aggregation program and explore strategies for advancing local renewable energy initiatives.
Oak Park is largest of the 20 Illinois communities where voters have approved electricity aggregation programs.
For more information on Oak Park's electricity aggregation program, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Q: What is Community Choice Aggregation?
A: Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) is a program that allows local governments to bundle – or aggregate – residential and small commercial retail electric accounts and seek bids for a cheaper, and possibly cleaner, source of power. Currently, ComEd customers receive power generated by Exelon at a price set each year by the Illinois Power Agency, a not-for-profit quasi-governmental body that buys electricity on the wholesale market on behalf of utility customers. By bundling residential and small commercial accounts, municipalities can go out into the open market to seek a lower rate for electric power for property owners. Large industrial and commercial customers already have this option, which has only recently become available to residential and small business property owners.
Q: Who is eligible? A: All residential and small business electricity customers are eligible. Large institutions like schools and hospitals are not part of the Community Choice Aggregation program.
Q: How do I enroll? A: As an eligible residential or small business customer when the program began, you were automatically enrolled in the program unless you chose to opt-out.
Q: What if I selected a third-party electricity supplier before the Oak Park aggregation program began? A: If you selected another supplier prior to the introduction of the Oak Park Community Choice Aggregation program, your account was not enrolled with Integrys. You remained with the supplier you selected.
Q: If I was with another supplier and my contract ends, can I join the Village’s aggregation program? A: Yes, you can join the program at the initial rate of 5.79 cents for the remainder of the current term at any time during the program. Call Integrys Energy Service at 877.549.6888 to enroll.
Q: I am a new resident – can I still enroll in the aggregation program? A: Yes. If you recently purchased or rented property in Oak Park for which you are responsible for electricity costs, you can join the aggregation program. First, call ComEd or visit www.comed.com to open a new electricity service account. Then call Oak Park’s third-party supplier Integrys at 877.549.6888 to join the aggregation program.
Q: Can I opt-out? A: Yes. If you are new to Oak Park, no action is necessary. If you were here when the program began and did not opt out by November 17, 2011, contact Integrys at 877.549.6888 or www.integrysenergy.com/oakpark. However, any existing customer who did not opt out may have to pay a $50 fee for leaving the aggregation program early. This charge is applied only to customers who choose another third-party supplier before the end of Oak Park's two-year program. The fee does not apply to tenants who move from one Oak Park apartment to another in the community or who move out of the Village.
Q: Once enrolled, can I still leave the program? A: Yes. You can leave the program at any time. However, you will be charged a $50 early termination fee. The early termination fee is waived for customers moving out of the Village.
Q: Does it cost to join Oak Park Community Choice Aggregation program? A: No. Enrolling is free.
Q: Can multifamily building owners join the aggregation program? A: Yes, building owners and condominium associations can join the aggregation program for their common area electric accounts. Building owners also can put vacant apartment accounts on the aggregation program.
Q: How does a multifamily building owner switch an account when a vacancy is filled? A: When a building owner fills a rental space, the owner should first complete and submit a Request for Change in Electrical Service form to ComEd, then call Integrys at 877.549.6888 to provide the name and address of the rental unit, and notice that the vacant account is being closed. You also may want to alert your new tenant to the opportunity to save on their electric bill by providing copies of this FAQ sheet to the tenant.
Q: What is the electricity rate under the Village program? A: The rate is 5.79˘/kWh. This rate includes a charge for 100 percent wind renewable energy credits.
Q: Is the rate fixed or variable? A: The rate for Oak Park’s Community Choice Aggregation Program is fixed and will not change during the two-year term of the contract with Integrys.
Q: Is the rate guaranteed?
The rate for Oak Park’s Community Choice Aggregation Program is guaranteed through December 2013.
Q: Who bills me for electricity? A: ComEd bills all customers for electricity, regardless of the provider.
Q: Can I have my payment automatically deducted from my checking account? A: Yes. How you pay your electric bill is not affected by joining the Village program.
Q: Who is responsible for the delivery of power to my home or business? A: ComEd delivers electricity and is responsible for maintaining the system that delivers power to homes and businesses in Oak Park.
Q: Who do I call to report a power outage or problems with my electric service? A: Call ComEd at 1.800.EDISON.1 or 1.877.4.COMED.1 to report a power outage or problems with electric service.
Q: Who is Integrys Energy Services, Inc.? A: Integrys Energy Services, Inc. was selected by the Village of Oak Park through a competitive bid process. Integrys has more than decade of experience partnering with communities to create aggregation programs that deliver value to energy consumers. Integrys Energy Services is a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group (NYSE: TEG), which is a Fortune® 500 company headquartered in Chicago with more than $10 billion in assets and strong credit ratings. This family of companies has a 150-year heritage in the energy business.