Chicagoans voted in the November election to let city hall seek an alternate supplier for the city's residential and small-business electricity needs.

The referendum on “municipal aggregation” was one of dozens like it in various Illinois communities. Communities that approve aggregation seek competitors who can provide a lower energy supply rate. The delivery charge continues to go to ComEd, which controls the lines that deliver electricity. In some communities, this power to bulk-purchase energy has resulted in smaller bills. In Wilmette, for example, officials negotiated a supply rate of $4.035 per kWh, versus the $8.32 that ComEd charges.

Other communities' rates may not be impacted. That's because some expensive long-term contracts that ComEd was locked into will expire in June, at which point ComEd's supply rate is expected to drop. Many communities have included contract language to protect consumers in case ComEd's supply price drops below that of a competitor. Consumers in places that approve aggregation will automatically get the supply rate their town negotiates. If they don't want to use the competitor, they can “opt out” and stay with ComEd's supply rate.

Visit www.comed.com.