Illinois Electric Bills Skyrocket Up To 170%

When Illinois’ 10-year price freeze ended January 1st, people were told to expect an increase of around 22-55%, according to BusinessWeek. Now the legislature is looking into why some Amren customers are paying on average up to 170% more than before the price freeze melted:

ICC staff estimated the average bill for an Ameren customer who uses electric heat went up between 88 percent and 170 percent in January, while ComEd customers with electric heat saw spikes of between 42 percent and 54 percent on average. ComEd is a subsidiary of Exelon Corp.

Commission chairman Charles Box cautioned that the commission will not be able to provide immediate relief because of hearings and review time mandated by law.

“It will not be a quick fix or result in credits to customers,” Box said. “We simply don’t have that authority.”

He urged Ameren to give customers relief in the meantime.

After getting blasted during a lengthy legislative hearing Tuesday, Ameren proposed an eight-point relief plan that included rebates for the biggest electricity users

Reader VAwful sends in a link to one of ComEd’s rate relief deals for Illinois customers. ComEd is offering to defer some of the rate increase at 3.25%. VAWful is wondering if this is a good deal. We’ll leave it to the comments. What do you think of ComEd’s program? —MEGHANN MARCO

State to investigate electric rates [BusinessWeek]
(Photo:geodesic)

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  1. gorckat says:

    Most likely they did what Maryland did- froze rates for a period of time in such a way that competition never happened because new companies would have lost money at the frozen rate. Then, when the rate cap expires, the prevailing market rate hits and everyone realizes the cost of electric has been rising, but they haven’t been paying it.

    Deregualtion sucks. The feds screwed the pooch (the FERC started it all, iirc, by deregulating the transmission market) and a number of states followed suit.

  2. critical_matt says:

    /shrug. I’d like to see the monthly bill for a 1000SF house first. If the rate is increasing from $30 to $60-$75/month then this is a big yawn. Their rates were held artificially low for a very long time with the price freeze.

    Try getting a rate increase on your bill because other deadbeats won’t pay their own. Detroit Edison just passed along an increase that was okayed by the state for this. They’re giving electricy to people who won’t pay – they complain they’re not getting paid – the state allows them to increase the cost to the people that actually do pay to cover their loss. /bangs head on wall.

  3. mfergel says:

    I think the same thing is going to happen here in Virginia soon. The problem is Dominion Power is pretty much in bed with our elected officials and Dominion is bound to get it’s way. Meanwhile, there CEO took in huge sums of money despite the fact that they’ve really had to bite the bullet in terms of profits due to the regulation they’ve had to deal with.

  4. lawnmowerdeth says:

    A friend of mine in IL had her electric bill for her one-bedroom apartment go from $100 last year to $210 for this month. That’s more than my house costs just over the river in MO.

  5. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    I’ve lived in Illinois, California, and New Mexico. Illinois had BY FAR the cheapest electricity – it wasn’t even close. Now that the price freeze is over, they’re probably paying about what people in other states are paying.

  6. humphrmi says:

    Illinois’ Citizen Utility Board (CUB) has already warned most people that the ComEd “relief” is just a loan, with interest, and a huge balloon payment. I hope that most people are avoiding it.

    One thing that steamed CUB about this was that if the un-freeze (and subsequent rate hike) happened in the fall, ComEd would basically have to eat it if people fell behind on their bills, because by law they can’t cut people off when the outside temperature is below a certain threshold. Since we’re going into spring now, it’s likely that ComEd can cut off more customers for non- or under-payments.

  7. bambino says:

    @lawnmowerdeth:

    $100 for a 1-bedroom apartment in the first place? Something’s wrong there…

  8. skittlbrau says:

    @bambino:

    Agreed – my electric bill for my 2 bed is less than $40 a month in NYC (heat included), and was less than $80 a month when I lived in Detroit (heat not included). Maybe they need to check out their windows and other electronics.

  9. sleepydumbdude says:

    I have a 1 bedroom apartment and mine ranges from 60-80. I could see mine going over a hundred if I ran my heat or air at all times. 210 though, screw that. I’d start conserving my energy then move when my lease was up to somewhere without such high rates.

  10. tadowguy says:

    I live in Colorado. I have a 1700sq ft house + basement and crawlspace and my electricity bill is around $80-$90/month INCLUDING the extra 10% I pay to get wind power. All of my utilities are through the city and their is no competition.

  11. tadowguy says:

    Posted too soon, but my $10k worth of new windows cut my bill by about 30-40%.

  12. davidr01 says:

    Our electricity bill was $300 last month. And we heat primarily with oil (we might as well heat by burning stacks of money). We’re not idiots; we would upgrade insulation if we were spending more than one winter in this rented house.

    I saw an article about Illinois electricity rates in the NY Times recently. Why is there no talk of alternative energy in cases like this? Wind power is more expensive, fine, but more than twice expensive? I don’t know enough details to lay out a case, but it was disappointing to me that it wasn’t mentioned, even do explain why it still isn’t viable.

  13. ckilgore says:

    I live in central Illinois here and the combination of the rate hike plus the super-cold snap in the weather doubled our power bill. We’ve got the heat turned down, turn of all the lights, etc. (Luckily my kids seem impervious to the freezing cold floor on their feet. They’re freaky like that.)

    Even if we had been paying artificially low rates, it still sucks to get that brand new, twice as big bill.

    I feel for the people who opt into the “relief” plan they offer without reading the fine print. Like humphrmi said – there is a huge balloon payment due later and chances are the people who need a relief plan aren’t going to suddenly have the money when a giant payment is due.

  14. recoiljpr says:

    That seems pretty cheap. You guys are lucky, here in Central Tx on a 1500 SQ house my average electricity bill runs aroun $200 per month during the winter and around $375 a month during the summer.

  15. kerry says:

    I don’t think my electric bill ever got over $100 last summer in my 1200 sq foot apartment in Chicago, running the AC regularly. Not sure what it’ll look like this summer though. I have gas heat, so my winter electric bills went from being about $45 a month to $60, not really a big deal at all. My gas bill, on the other hand, just keeps going up, and with the cold February we had I got shocked to find a $250 gas bill when January’s had only been $135. Eep!
    Oh, and there is no deregulation in Illinois, so ComEd has had a monopoly this whole time. They claim they froze the rates to keep the consumers happy. I think maybe they froze them too long because some people got huge jumps on their bills. That said, a friend of mine was all surprised by her 25% increase and I called her out on not reading any of the dozen warnings we received in the mail and on TV over the last 2 months about the increase, some people don’t pay attention to that stuff.

  16. juri squared says:

    We got a brochure in the mail for the ComEd “CARES” program, and it’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s basically a REALLY bad financing plan. You’d be better off putting your payments on a credit card; at least then you won’t have a nasty surprise when the deferral is up.

  17. jak312 says:

    The big issue is that the main provider outside of the Chicagoland area stopped offering deep discounts for “all electric” accounts (e.g. electric heat) at the same time as the rate increase. If you were not on an “all electric” account, you saw the ~50% the utility said you would. If you were on an electric heat account during the recent cold-snap, you saw bills upwards of 200% higher (e.g. 3x).

    While the electric utility has not directly promoted the all-electric rates for many years, many home sellers and renters did. Much of the new construction over the last 15+ years has assumed these discounts would continue. Not real smart, IMHO, as they discounts were extreme.

    The new rates are not out of line with national averages.

  18. Denver here, 1 bedroom condo 600 square feet. Bill is never over $35 a month, all year.

  19. Maulleigh says:

    It gets BITCHIN’ cold in Illinois too.

  20. micturatedupon says:

    my 741 sq ft, 1bd apt, halfway between el ley and palm springs, full of fluorescent swirly light bulbs, sets me back $35 a month for city provided electricity.

    i about crapped my pants when i got my first bill…

  21. mikesfree says:

    I live in the ameren IP territory. I have an all electric house, resistance heating. The house was built in the late 80s and hasnt been too bad, has lots of insulation and the windows are reasonably tight, although they are wood framed.

    My average winter bill is around 80-90 dollars. For all electric customers there was a service discount for having an all electric house. I think the thing that will kill Ameren was the discontinuation of that discount along with the super high rate increase. My last service periods bill was $270, almost 3 times my average winter bill when it wasnt that cold. This next bill should include a particulary bitter cold snap, and I am thinking that it will be pretty henious.

    We already did quite a bit to conserve energy, but we are trying to do more. With the thermostat already set at 67 degrees, I am not sure how much more I can do.

    Working in Telco, I am amazed how hard the ICC is on us for any small changes, but somehow this wasnt ever addressed.

  22. nyteshadow says:

    I have a 600 something sq foot one br condo in Tampa FL, that I am renting and I am so very frustrated!
    Since moving here I have had electric bills ranging from 120-150 dollars and they keep getting higher – previously I lived in a 3br apt in the same city and with 5 people living there on-and off doing laundry and cooking every day the bill was never over 90. I had an audit done and they claimed everything is running fine. Last week I visited my grandpa who lives in a 2 br house and keeps his temp at 73 too – he pays 70-80 a month for his bill. Something is very wrong here I have all neon bulbs in my fixtures the 11 watt ones only 6 lights in the whole place most of them are always off and I am not doing laundry every day or having 5 people shower here, I have never had the heat on at all. If this keeps going up I will end up having to move out.

  23. electrician says:

    Go to http://www.power-save1200.com Buy a unit, save about 25% off your electric bills. End of subject.