Metro-East News

Should you opt out of your city’s electric program? Here are some things to consider.

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City officials recently extended an agreement with a power company to continue providing electricity to the city at a slightly lower rate, though residents still have the option to go with another electric provider if they choose.

The city of O’Fallon signed an 18-month extension with Homefield Energy, a retail electric supplier and subsidiary of Houston-based electric company Dynegy Inc. The agreement is called a municipal aggregation program, which allows municipalities to negotiate the purchase of its residents’ combined electric supply.

Several cities in the metro-east, including Belleville, Alton and Shiloh, participate in electric aggregation programs.

As of Jan. 1, the rate in O’Fallon will be 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour, a reduction from the 5.95 cent per kWh rate in place since June 2016. In June 2019, the rate will begin decreasing by 2 percent to 5.596 through December 2020.

“It has saved our residents a considerable amount of money at a time when many are struggling financially,” Roach said in a statement. “Ever since I sponsored this concept in 2012, I also believed that residents should have a choice if they want to participate in the program.”

Residents have the choice to opt out of the aggregation rate, though those who don’t opt out are automatically enrolled at no fee and are not required to sign a contract. Service will be not be interrupted and Ameren Illinois will continue to deliver power, restore outages and issue bills. Participants will see the new rate reflected on their February bill for January service.

Residents should consider their options carefully before signing up with another electric provider, O’Fallon officials said in a news release. Some providers require customers to sign contracts and sometimes charge hidden fees. Marketers for those companies often approach potential customers door-to-door and ask for their electric bill. Always request a contract and read through it before signing up for another electric provider. If a door-to-door marketer refuses to provide a contract or information, do not sign up for the program.

Some electric providers even sign customers up for their program without express consent. The Illinois attorney general earlier this year filed a lawsuit against Sperian Energy, claiming the company used deceptive practicies to sign customers up over the phone by asking for information from their electric bill, according to a report by ABC7 Chicago.

No marketers will approach potential participants in the O’Fallon electrical aggregation program. Participants are not required to sign a contract and will not be contacted by a salesperson.

Homefield Energy will send letters to all eligible residents and small businesses describing the aggregation program along with instructions on how to opt out for residents who do not wish to participate. The opt-out period ends Dec. 1.

Residents who choose to opt out will not be allowed to rejoin the O’Fallon aggregation program for a year.

For more information on the electric aggregation program, visit Homefield Energy’s website at www.homefieldenergy.com/residential/municipal-aggregation/faq-residential-municipal.php, call O’Fallon Finance Director Sandy Evans 618-624-4500, ext. 8723 or email her at sevans@ofallon.org.

If you are a new residential electric customer, or uncertain if you are enrolled in O’Fallon’s aggregation program, contact Homefield Energy at 866-694-1262. To find out if your municipality participates in such a program, visit Plug In Illinois at www.pluginillinois.org/MunicipalAggregationList.aspx.

Kelsey Landis: 618-239-2110, @kelseylandis

At a glance

Here are some electric provider companies and their offers, according to Plug In Illinois, the Illinois Commerce Commission’s electric choice website:

Supplier

Fixed rate in cents per kWh

Contract duration in months

Early Termination Fee

O’Fallon aggregation program

5.7

No contract

None

Ameren

6.167

No contract

None

Palmco

9.054

14

None

AEP Energy

5.15

18

None

AEP Energy

5.51

24

None

Direct Energy

6.39

12

None

Clearview Energy

6.89

12

$50

Ambit Northeast

5.35

12

None

Energy.ME

8.432

24

$50

Nordic Energy Services

3

6

None

Agera Energy, LLC

8.432

24

$50

Liberty Power Holdings LLC

5.521

36

$50

NRG Home

6.4

24

$10/each remaining month of term

Agera Energy, LLC

8.189

12

$50

For a full list of suppliers in the area and information on their rates and contracts, visit Plug In Illinois online.

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