Less than two weeks to opt out of Chicago electricity plan

Residents who don’t buy the city’s promise to save them cash, can seek an alternative

December 28, 2012

Caroline O'Donovan

The city of Chicago is spreading word that residents have less than two weeks to opt out of a newly-instituted municipal electric aggregation program.
The city says Thursday morning it began sending out more than 2 million notices via mail.

The city’s bulk energy purchasing program — an idea first approved by voters in a November referendum — will save residents 11 percent on energy costs over the course of the next fifteen months. City Hall estimates that could equate to between $135 and $165 per household.

The city contract with Integrys Electrical Services, which passed through city council unanimously in December, always allowed some city residents to opt out, so Thursday's mailing merely clarifies that the clock's ticking for those who don't want to participate. The mailing reads that those who want to opt out should contact Integrys via mail, phone or online. The deadline is Jan. 9, but Chicagoans can drop the program at any time without a charge or fee.

The majority of Chicagoans are drawn to savings through electric aggregation. The program was made possibly by a referendum that passed with 56 percent of the vote.

Integrys supplies aggregated electricity for 44 other communities in Illinois, according to the city. An Integrys spokesperson said that in those communities, about 8 percent of residents choose not to participate in their local program.

Addressing whether he’d take up the offer to opt out, Chicago resident Robert McTiernan said “I don’t mind if the city took over. My only concern is that the city continually takes things over and then they tend to go up. So, initially it sounds like a great deal but I think I would rather keep it as an individual thing.”

McTiernan says for now, though, he’ll stay in the program and consider dropping out if rates begin to rise.