FAQ

What is an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier (ARES)?
The ARES were established by the Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law of 1997 to provide electric customers in the Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) and in the Ameren Companies (Ameren) service territories with a choice in who provides the supply portion of their electric service. Electric supply may be sold by either the utility or by alternative retail electric suppliers. While ComEd and Ameren deliver power to these customers over their "wires" distribution system and are responsible for service related issues, alternative retail electric suppliers are the generation source for more than 50% of all of the electricity consumed in the state. Over 74% of the commercial, industrial, governmental and other non-residential electric demand is served by alternative retail electric suppliers. This amounts to over 138,000 customers statewide. Approximately 261,988 residential customer have left their incumbent utility and switched to an alternative retail electric supplier as their power source as of 2011. As of 2011, ARES serve 19 communities in the ComEd service territory as their electric supply source as a result of municipal aggregation referenda, which allows communities to pool their electric load and seek competitive supply offers as an alternative to utility supply.  In 2012, 211 communities in the ComEd service territory and 77 communities in the Ameren service territory have municipal aggregation referenda on the March primary ballot.

What is an Alternative Gas Supplier (AGS)?
Competition for larger commercial and industrial natural gas customers was largely restructured at the federal level in the mid 1980’s. As a result, these larger customers have been buying competitive natural gas service for a long time from among a large number of suppliers nationwide. However, similar opportunities were not afforded to smaller commercial customers or residential customers in Illinois and many States. However, due to programs offered to residential and small business customers of Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas, and Peoples Gas, these smaller customers currently have the option to purchase their natural gas supply from an Alternative Gas Supplier (AGS). Whether the customer chooses to purchase the natural gas supply from the local gas utility or switch to an AGS, the local natural gas utility continues to deliver the gas to the customer and is responsible for service related issues.

There are over 300,000 customers who have chosen an AGS to provide their natural gas supply. ICEA members who are also alternative gas suppliers include Constellation NewEnergy through its affiliate Mx Energy, Direct Energy Services, Integyrs Energy Services, and Nordic Energy Services.

Why Care?
ICEA member company customers enjoy significant savings when choosing a competitive energy supplier because we provide a competitive and customized alternative to purchasing from the local utility. We understand that every customers’ needs are different, and we identify the energy plan that provides the most value for that customer. ICEA member customers include a wide and diverse range of residential, business, governmental, and non-profit energy consumers.

For most business, governmental, and non-profit customers, energy costs are 20-40 percent of their operating expense. The competitive supplier delivers a range of risk management tools, innovative products and services designed to help our customers manage their energy costs, stay in business, and compete in today's marketplace.

In particular, alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES)--and every ICEA member is an ARES--provide electricity and energy management services to small, medium and large-sized businesses from Rockford to Cairo and to manufacturers, retail merchants, and other commercial and industrial customers ranging from Main Street to among the Fortune 500.

ARES-served governmental customers include municipal and county governmental units from the City of Chicago and Cook County with their departments operating such services as O'Hare and Midway Airports, Metra/CTA, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District; city and county governments in northern, central and southern Illinois; and certain State of Illinois operated facilities.

ARES-served customers also include school districts, such as the Chicago Public Schools and 425 school districts across Illinois and city, state, and private colleges and universities. Hospitals, such as John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital and other Chicago, suburban and downstate hospitals buy their electricity and energy management services from an ARES. Other ARES-served customers include park districts; cultural and religious institutions; sporting facilities; office buildings and condo associations; hotels, restaurants; and grocery stores.

Want to Learn More?
Contact:  Kevin Wright, ICEA President
601 West Monroe Street
Springfield, IL 62704
217-741-5217(preferred) or 217-525-0700 ext. 121