With summer on the way, it’s time for ComEd customers to pay

Written By BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter Posted: 06/10/2014, 12:27am

ComEd customers will see a hike in their electricity bills just as the hot, summer months roll in.

That’s because the charge for electricity went up 38 percent for those whose power is provided by ComEd, according to the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utilities.

It means the average residential customer, who uses 655 kilowatt-hours each month, will pay $13 more, ComEd officials said in a written statement. Overall, customers will see a 20-percent increase in an average bill starting in June, according to ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd.

The cost of the energy makes up 60 percent of a ComEd bill, he said. The rest of the bill is made up mostly of the charge to deliver the electricity.

And the pain for ComEd customers isn’t over yet.

The utility is also seeking a $275 million rate hike that would take effect in January. If that’s approved by the commission, the delivery service charge would increase by $3 a month for the average residential customer, according to ComEd.

The rate increase that goes into effect next month comes as a result of a power-generator auction held last month by the Illinois Power Agency.

For the first time in two years, ComEd had to procure bids for electricity, said commission spokeswoman Beth Bosch.

“The increase is due largely to the rising capacity charges that ComEd and all retail energy suppliers pay power generators to ensure that there’s enough power produced during ‘peak’ demand hours,” ComEd said in a statement.

Prices were revealed on Friday. On Tuesday, ComEd officially filed the numbers with the commission, Bosch said.

The cost of the electricity will rise to 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour from 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour starting June 1, Bosch said.

Ameren Illinois, the electric utility for roughly the southern two-thirds of the state, saw a slight decrease in price. That company’s rate will drop from 4.86 cents per kilowatt-hour to about 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, though that figure could change slightly once a transmission service charge is accounted for later this month, according to the commission. ComEd’s rate may also change later this year “following an additional electric supply procurement scheduled for September 2014,” the commission said in a news release.

“ComEd does not generate electricity. The company’s role is to deliver electricity to every home and business in northern Illinois,” ComEd said in a statement. “ComEd supports competition among energy suppliers as a way to provide customers with greater choice and money-saving opportunities.”

The Citizens Utility Board lamented that ComEd customers will be paying more just as Chicago’s sweltering summer, which often can be brutal, begins.

“This isn’t good news for consumers going into the summer, especially coming off of a winter where we paid more because it was so cold,” said CUB Executive Director David Kolata.

The other increase ComEd is seeking would affect the delivery rates it charges consumers.

That increase is sought to recover $275 million spent to modernize the electricity grid, according to ComEd.

The average ComEd customer already saw a $5.50 increase in delivery charges this year as ComEd seeks collect $340 million in revenue this year.

The recent hikes means customers shouldn’t expect electricity prices to drop significantly anytime soon.

“Now more than ever, consumers depend upon energy efficiency to help blunt rate hikes like this,” said Citizens Utility Board spokesman Jim Chilsen. “You can’t depend on energy markets to lower your power bill. The most reliable way to cut your electricity cost is though energy efficiency and times like this prove it.”

Email: bschlikerman@suntimes.com

Twitter: @schlikerman

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