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85% of C&I Electricity Is Provided by Retail Suppliers in Illinois

July 22, 2015 By Cheryl Kaften

Nearly 85 percent of the electricity used by commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in the ComEd and Ameren utility service territories was sourced through alternative retail energy suppliers during the year ended May 31, the Illinois Commerce Commission’s Office of Retail Market Development (ORMD) said in its eighth annual report  to the state’s General Assembly and Governor.

According to the latest data, even in the smallest commercial customer class, close to 60 percent of electricity is now provided by alternative retail suppliers.

The yearly survey is a requirement of the Retail Electric Competition Act of 2006 and details the specific accomplishments achieved by the ORMD in promoting retail competition.

Although their numbers are large, residential customers still are bringing up the rear in terms of electricity provided by competitive services, compared to the C&I cohort. Specifically, while the total of non-residential customers on competitive supply has been steadily, but slowly, increasing over the last few years, the number of residential retail customers has gone from virtually zero in 2011 to more than 3 million in 2013. As a whole, competitive suppliers now have about 10 times as many residential customers as they have C&I retail customers. However, even the substantial increase in residential customers has not changed the fact that, as a whole, suppliers provide substantially more electricity to C&I than to residential customers.

With several communities deciding to end their aggregation programs, overall levels of residential customers switching to alternative retail energy suppliers have declined, compared to last year. However, the number of residential customers receiving alternative retail service outside of an aggregation program has actually increased in the last year.

Next year, that trend is likely to continue. Chicago has announced that it is not continuing its aggregation program beyond August 2015. Unless a large number of the aggregation customers switch to an alternative supplier before then, next year’s report will show a sudden decline in the number of residential retail-supplied customers

“The retail electric market is very dynamic, especially in the residential and small commercial customer areas,” said ORMD Director Torsten Clausen. “The annual reporting allows us to track the changes in the market and analyze the development of competition in the retail electric market.”

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