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Answers to your questions about municipal aggregation
News Release: May, 2012
Municipal electric aggregation will save most Urbana residents more than 30 percent on the electric supply portion of their Ameren Illinois bills, starting in July or August. Many residents will experience annual savings of more than $100.
It's a great deal and many residents have expressed excitement about aggregation to city officials. But the new program and its implementation are also creating some confusion.
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions.
I just received a letter titled "Electric Supplier Choice Confirmation" from Ameren. What is this? What should I do?
About 10,000 city residences received an opt-out letter in May. If you wanted to be a part of the city's aggregation program, you were instructed to not respond to the letter. You would be automatically enrolled if you didn't "opt out."
The confirmation letter received by residents in early June is going to the residents who didn't respond to the opt-out letter. The letters informs them that they have been enrolled with the city's new electric supplier, Homefield Energy. Homefield's rate of 4.055 cents per kilowatt hour is lower than Ameren Illinois default rate of 6.16 cents per kilowatt hour from June through September and 5.45 cents for October through May.
If you want to stay in the aggregation program and experience these savings, do not respond to the confirmation letter. If you respond, you will be switched to the higher default rate. The letter represents a required second chance for residents to opt out of aggregation.
What is municipal electric aggregation?
Illinois law allows cities and counties to negotiate the purchase price of electricity on behalf of residential and small business utility customers living within their boundaries. Urbana voters approved municipal electric aggregation with 71 percent of the vote in the March 20 primary.
On May 8, Mayor Laurel Prussing signed a contract with the low bidder for city electricity, Homefield Energy of Collinsville, Ill. The contract term is for two years and expires in May 2014. Ameren Illinois will continue to be responsible for delivering the electricity to your home and billing you for it.
When will I see the savings in my Ameren bill?
Most residents will see the savings with their August bills, for July power usage. Some lucky residents will see the savings with their July bill. Look under the electric supply portion of the bill and if you see Homefield Energy, then you are getting the savings.
I was one of the 600 Urbana residents that mistakenly didn't get an opt out letter. When will I get one?
New opt-out letters for these 600 residences will be mailed by Homefield Energy on Friday, June 15, and residents will have until July 2 to respond if they want to opt out of the aggregation program. Homefield Energy regrets the oversight. They are currently enrolling some 200,000 customers across Ameren Illinois territory.
I heat my apartment/house with electricity and receive the space heat discount from Ameren. Will I get a chance to enroll in the city's aggregation program and will it save me money?
Also on this Friday, June 15, opt-out letters will be mailed by Homefield Energy to some 3,800 Urbana residences that receive the space heat discount. These residents will also have until July 2 to opt out of the program.
In late May, Ameren released its new rate structure, effective June 1, for the next year and it showed that most space heat customers would save money by joining the city's aggregation program. For that reason, the city and Homefield Energy decided to mail opt-out letters to these customers.
Ameren's current default rate for summer is 6.16 cents per kilowatt hour and 5.45 cents from October through May. Space heat customers, however, receive a rate of 3.18 cents per kilowatt hour for non-summer use above 800 kilowatt hours per month. The city's rate for the next two years is a flat 4.05 cents per kilowatt hour. Space heat customers should compare these rates carefully, along with their usage patterns, and select the option that will benefit them long term.
For example, a "space heat" resident using 800 kilowatt hours per month most of the year, but 1,200 kilowatt hours per month from December through February, would see solid savings with the city's program. Such a resident would save $67 during the summer months and $79 from October through May, for a total annual savings of $146 compared to the default rates.
I signed a contract with another retail electric supplier before I heard about the city's aggregation program. Can I still join the city's program?
Yes, but it will take some effort on your part. First, you must cancel your contract with the other retail electric supplier. Before cancelling, you should first check your contract to make sure you don't have to pay an early exit fee. if you do have to pay a fee, you should evaluate if the aggregation savings are significant enough to justify paying the fee.
After you cancel your contract, you need to contact Homefield Energy within 60 days of cancellation and enroll in the aggregation program. You can enroll by calling Homefield Energy at 866-694-1262, or via e-mail at email@example.com. If you experience problems or have questions, you can contact the city at 384-2454 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cancel your contract but don't enroll in the city's program within 60 days, you'll have to pay the Ameren default rate for another 10 months.