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updated: 5/8/2014 4:48 PM

ComEd, other customers brace for hikes

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  • Residential consumers who buy their electricity from ComEd will get jolted with a 38 percent price hike on June 1.

       Residential consumers who buy their electricity from ComEd will get jolted with a 38 percent price hike on June 1.
    GEORGE LECLAIRE | Staff Photographer

  • ComEd power lines run along Kingswood Drive in North Aurora. ComEd has a couple of rate hikes in store for consumers.

      ComEd power lines run along Kingswood Drive in North Aurora. ComEd has a couple of rate hikes in store for consumers.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Bob Kovas of Plainfield lifts a crossarm up to a pole during training at the ComEd Glenbard Training Center in Lombard. ComEd has a couple of rate hikes in store for consumers.

      Bob Kovas of Plainfield lifts a crossarm up to a pole during training at the ComEd Glenbard Training Center in Lombard. ComEd has a couple of rate hikes in store for consumers.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Residential consumers who buy their electricity from ComEd will get jolted with a 38 percent price hike on June 1, and many who have other electricity suppliers also could see increases.

ComEd said Wednesday that the Illinois Power Authority, which procures the electricity for all suppliers, set ComEd's cost per kilowatt hour at 7.59 cents, an increase from 5.52 cents in 2013, ComEd spokesman David O'Dowd said.

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"The authority buys on behalf of ComEd annually, so customers who have ComEd for their power will see the increase," O'Dowd said.

A 38 percent increase in the per-kilowatt-hour price that ComEd customers pay for electricity is never good news heading into another air conditioning season, said Jim Chilsen, spokesman for Citizens Utility Board, a utility watchdog in Chicago.

"Once again it shows that we can't rely on energy markets to consistently cut our power bills," said Chilsen. "The only reliable way to cut our bills is through energy efficiency."

The cost of power is about two-thirds of a consumer's bill. A ComEd residential customer who uses about 655 kilowatts of electricity per month could see an increase of about $13, said O'Dowd.

Many non-ComEd customers also will pay more, especially if their towns contracted with an alternative energy supplier. If their contract recently came up, it likely reflected an increase, experts said.

Around the suburbs, for example, Buffalo Grove officials said in late March that it locked in a new supplier for the next three years, with the price for its power going up 17 percent starting in June. Constellation Energy Resources set its rate is 6.529 cents per kilowatt hour.

In addition to paying for the cost of power, the other portion of the consumer's bill deals with the delivery costs, which also could change by early next year.

ComEd filed on April 16 for a rate increase for delivery costs via the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates the utility. That process takes about 11 months before a decision is made.

ComEd's proposed delivery service charges could increase by about $3 on the average monthly residential bill starting in January 2015. This is based on a revenue request of about $275 million to recover the cost of investments already made in the system, ComEd said.

The delivery charges affect all consumers of electricity, regardless of who supplies the power, since the network is owned by ComEd and is used by a other power supply companies.

ComEd said April 16 that it needed the extra money for its ongoing modernization project for the power grid and other service-enhancing

investments across the region.

That April 16 filing was the fourth under the 2011 Smart Grid law that established a performance-based rate model to support modernizing the electric infrastructure serving northern Illinois, ComEd said.

The modernization is a 10-year project to transform the electric grid throughout the region.

The Illinois Power Authority conducted the procurement process with bidding by generators or electricity suppliers on April 29, and the ICC approved the new prices on May 2, said ICC spokeswoman Beth Bosch.

And with looming increases, CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen also warned consumers to be alert for bad deals in the power market.

"CUB is concerned that consumers who see headlines about ComEd's rate increase may get lured into a bad deal from an alternative supplier. Be careful," Chilsen said.

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