Back in 2012, municipalities across Illinois were jumping on a bandwagon known as “electrical aggregation,” enlisting third-party companies to negotiate rates with power providers and pass the savings along to customers.
At the time, the aggregators were able to offer rates well below ComEd’s. Over the next couple of years, Riverside electric customers saved a combined $800,000 compared to what they would have paid ComEd. Brookfield’s savings were even higher, totaling more than $1.5 million.
It didn’t last long. As the difference between ComEd rates and aggregation rates narrowed or disappeared, Brookfield and North Riverside ended their aggregation programs in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Only Riverside held fast, approving new aggregation contracts in 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2020 — and not because the program was necessarily saving customers any money. Riverside electric customers who did not opt out of the aggregation program likely paid a premium between 2015-20, though probably not enough to have wiped out the savings from those early years of the program, according to Sharon Durling, president and CEO of Illinois Aggregation Consultants.
From 2020-23, there was no difference between the amount Riverside aggregation program customers paid compared to ComEd, because the village chose a ComEd price match contract with MC Squared Energy Services to deliver 100% renewable energy.
MC Squared’s ComEd price-match offer this time around could only promise Riverside 5% green energy.
But elected officials continued to renew the program and on June 15 voted to approve a 12-month contract with Dynegy Energy, beginning in October, for a fixed-rate of 7.571 cents per kilowatt hour in order to maintain the village’s status as a leader in supporting green power generation.
That decision would appear at first to have come at a premium compared to the 7.055 per kilowatt hour that ComEd will begin charging in October. Based on the ComEd rate remaining unchanged, the average Riverside household in the aggregation program could expect to pay about $3.58 per month more for the electricity supply portion of their bill compared to a ComEd customer.
However, said Durling, ComEd’s rate may face volatility. First, the utility announced it was eliminating a half-cent variable tax, called a Purchased Electricity Adjustment, which could result in either an extra charge or a credit for customers in any given month.
“For July, it was a small credit, so we don’t know how that’s going to fall out or whether it will lead to greater volatility,” Durling said.
In addition, according to Durling, ComEd did not pre-purchase its entire power load this year, so it may be forced to seek power on the daily market.
“Will that be a benefit or not?” Durling asked. “We just don’t know.”
Going with the aggregation program guarantees the fee being charged at least for the supply of electricity and it is a 100% green energy program.
Anyone who would prefer to go with ComEd or another power supplier can opt out of the aggregation program. Riverside electricity customers will receive a mailing with information about how to opt out.
Since 2015, the village has only contracted with companies that can provide them with a 100% green aggregation program, resulting in Riverside ranking third in the nation on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Communities List, with 75.7% of electricity consumed in the village credited to green power sources.
From 2020 to 2023, according to village data, Riverside’s 100% green electrical aggregation program offset more than 130 million kilowatt hours of power with Renewable Energy Credits from wind farms in the Midwest.
The equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to the village, compares to more than 103 million pounds of coal burned.
Illinois holds the top three places on the U.S. EPA’s list, with Riverside trailing only Lake Barrington and Libertyville.