Elgin residents and small-business owners can expect to save on electric bills as the city switches next month from supplier Dynegy Energy Services to ComEd.
The switch will be automatic and there will be no changes in billing -- always provided by ComEd, no matter the supplier -- when the city's contract with Dynegy expires Jan. 17. Dynegy's rates are 6.798 cents per kilowatt-hour, and ComEd's rate will be 6.388 cents per kWH through May.
The city will take a look at electricity prices in six months and determine whether to stick with ComEd or go with another option, Mayor David Kaptain said.
Kaptain was among a narrow majority of council members who voted in favor of the current contract, which provides 100 percent renewable energy, unlike ComEd. Even though Dynegy wasn't the cheapest option at the time, Kaptain and the others said it was important to "go green."
Residents opt out of municipal aggregation and sign up with a renewable energy supplier, Kaptain pointed out Wednesday.
"In six months we'll decide what to do. Going green is an option," Kaptain said. "No matter what we do, it is incumbent on the city to make some kind of recommendation (for residents). I think people will need guidance here."
Among the dissenters last year was Councilman John Prigge, who said he was pleased about the upcoming switch to ComEd.
"If people do not want to pay the cheapest possible rate and go with something other than ComEd, or something green, or they have a personal interest in going with another company," Prigge said, "they can do that."
Residents should be careful to read the fine print if they switch suppliers, Citizen Services Director Colby Basham said. For example, "there can be stiff penalties for canceling or it's a multiyear agreement," he said.
Elgin has participated in electricity aggregation since March 2012 and has had contracts with three different suppliers that provided rates cheaper than ComEd's, which in turn has been forced by the market to gradually lower its prices.
When a municipality switches to ComEd, it cannot enter into another aggregation contract for six months, Basham explained. "We are hoping to look for another green alternative source in six months and see what the prices are then," he said.
Residents also should beware of scammers, Kaptain and Basham said.
"We had people who literally knocked on doors and said they are with a company, and they are not. Others who were wearing city-logoed shirts," Basham said. "No one from the city of Elgin is going to knock on anyone's door to talk to them about electric aggregation. The only way we'd communicate with them is via letter."