Some Evanston residents have been concerned about higher electric bills and have called the City to make sure their bills are correct.

In May, the City of Evanston approved a three-year contract with Homefield Energy as part of its electricity aggregation program, providing participating residents and small businesses with 100% renewable energy and pricing certainty in a period of volatile electricity costs. ComEd still delivers the electricity.

There are a few factors at play that could be affecting energy bills. For some customers, the bill they received most recently included electricity supply charges for both August and October. Check the bill to see if the usage in kWh is double. This is because the first electricity bill customers received after the City switched customers to Homefield Energy did not include electricity supply charges.

The City was notified of this issue in September and issued a story on its website: (http://www.cityofevanston.org/news2014/09) to notify customers. Essentially, Homefield Energy was late by a few days with their reporting of data to ComEd and as a result, the ComEd bills were issued before the supply charges were added for about one-third of customers. The other factor that is leading to higher supply costs is that the electricity market overall has seen an increase in prices. Most ComEd customers who were not with an alternate supplier saw these increases in the spring of 2014. However, since the City’s program with Verde Energy continued from April 2013 until the end of last summer, Evanston Aggregation Program participants only recently saw this increase.

Each year for the aggregation program, City staff has evaluated the pricing options for contract terms ranging from 12 to 36 months. The first two years, there was a 10% or more increase in price for those with a 24-month contract versus 12-month contract. As a result, prices would have to increase significantly in order for the longer term to be a good deal for Evanston. For this reason, the City elected to select a one-year contract two years in a row.

This spring, the most recent supplier selection process resulted in the longer term contract providing the best price. This is because there are some known increases in charges at the regional grid level that have increased already and will hit a high next year, but then decrease the following year. So, the longer contract allows the supplier to average out the prices and help provide price certainty to our customers.