Most residents in North Riverside should soon see lower electric bills. As a result of a November referendum all residents in North Riverside, unless they choose to opt out, will soon get their electricity from a different provider than Commonwealth Edison. The electrical aggregation referendum was approved at the Nov. 6 election by a vote of 1,782 (69 percent) to 800 (31 percent).

As a result of this vote, North Riverside, like a growing number of other municipalities in the state, will contract with one electricity provider to provide village residents with their power.

At the Nov. 19 village board meeting, North Riverside trustees unanimously chose the low bidder, FirstEnergy Solutions, to provide electricity to village residents for the next two years at a rate of 5.379 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares with Commonwealth Edison’s current rate of 8.82 cents per hour.

The average single family homeowner should save about $267 a year, or 28 percent, said Sharon Durling the marketing director for the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Cooperative (NIMEC) which advised North Riverside on picking an electricity provider.

FirstEnergy was the low bidder among five firms who submitted figures for providing electricity to North Riverside. FirstEnergy Solutions is an Akron, Ohio-based subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp, one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the country. FirstEnergy owns 29 power plants.

FirstEnergy provides power to a number of Illinois communities under the new electrical aggregation law, including Brookfield, Countryside and LaGrange Park.

North Riverside residents will soon be receiving a letter informing them of their new electricity provider. Residents who prefer to have their electricity provided by ComEd or another provider will have an opportunity to opt out of the arrangement with FirstEnergy. But if they do nothing, FirstEnergy will provide their electricity.

Customers who already have chosen another provider will not automatically be included in the village’s program and must actively opt in.

ComEd will still handle service calls, billing and transmission services even for those who get their electricity from FirstEnergy or another provider. If your lights go out, you still call ComEd, which is still responsible for restoring your power.

Bills will still be sent by ComEd. The only difference a customer will notice on their bill is that FirstEnergy will be listed as the electricity supplier in the top portion of the bill. ComEd will still charge for delivery services and handle billing.

The only downside to FirstEnergy is mediocre customer service, rated at two stars, Durling said. Energy providers are rated by the Illinois Commerce Commission on a three-star system.

But typically only a tiny fraction of customers ever need to call customer service, Durling said. FirstEnergy customer service would mostly handle opt-in or opt-out questions.

The changeover to FirstEnergy should be completed in a couple of months.