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"Honeymoon" Ending For Alternative Energy Suppliers

Citizens Utility Board

In the past couple years, Illinois communities and households have been leaving behind Com Ed. The Citizens Utility Board, or CUB, says last year Illinois led the nation with a 562 percent increase in switching to alternative suppliers, selling cheaper electricity. But CUB's Jim Chilsen say this summer ComEd and Ameren will be freed from long-term contracts that kept their prices higher. 

Chilsen says it'll be a key test of Illinois’' competitive electricity market as consumers decide which company to stick with.

"It's gotten a lot more complicated to be a utility customer in Illinois, and you really have to arm yourself with a lot more information to make the right decisions." -Jim Chilsen

Chilsen says alternative electric suppliers will have to get more innovative.  He says so far, they've marketed themselves mostly by offering lower prices.  He says they could consider giving loyal customers smart thermostats, or offering lower rates when a customer chooses to use electricity during times of low demand.

Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.