Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier (ARES)?
- Who can choose a different ARES?
- How do I know if a supplier is offering supply service in my area?
- Do I have to choose a supplier?
- Are there any different rate options even if I currently do not want to select a different electric supplier?
- Who do I call if my power goes out?
- How will I be billed?
- Will my LIHEAP and PIPP benefits be affected?
- Will I save money?
- I'm on a budget payment plan with my utility. Can I continue with this plan if I enroll with a supplier?
- If I choose an electric supplier, can I later switch to a different electric supplier or choose to go back to the utility's bundled service?
- Who do I call if I have questions about my bill?
- Are there any different rate options even if I currently do not want to select a different ARESelectric supplier?
What is an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier (ARES)?
An ARES or Supplier is a business that sells electricity to residential and/or commercial customers in a competitive market. To do business in Illinois, an electric supplier must be certified by the ICC and complete the utility's registration process.
Who can choose a different ARES?
All customers of the Ameren Illinois and ComEd service territories, except those that either received financial assistance in the previous 12 months from LIHEAP or, at the time of enrollment is participating in PIPP, are eligible. Several ARES are certified by the ICC and registered in the Ameren Illinois and ComEd territories. However, those ARES may not offer service to residential customers in your area at this time. Please contact the suppliers directly to find out. For a list of ARES visit the ICC's Supplier List, Ameren Illinois Choice website or ComEd's Choice website.
- Beginning January 1, 2020, an ARES shall not knowingly submit an enrollment to change a customer's electric supplier if the electric utility's records indicate that the customer either received financial assistance in the previous 12 months from LIEHAP, or at the time of enrollment is participating in PIPP.
How do I know if a supplier is offering supply service in my area?
Contact suppliers listed for the utility service territory you live in. Ask if they have any available offers in your area and if so what they are.
Do I have to choose a supplier?
No. You may choose to remain with your electric utility for supply service.
Are there any different rate options even if I currently do not want to select a different electric supplier?
Yes. Ameren Illinois and ComEd both offer real time or hourly pricing options to help residential customers manage their usage better. Hourly prices for electricity are posted a day ahead so customers can determine the best time to run major appliances for the next day. The real time pricing option requires a special meter to be installed at your home. Visit the real-time pricing websites at the links above for more information.
Who do I call if my power goes out?
You continue to call your electric utility for any and all technical problems. The utility is still responsible for the safe, reliable delivery of the electricity you purchase, whether you purchase your electricity from the utility or a supplier.
How will I be billed?
It depends on the supplier you choose. You may receive one bill or two. You may continue to receive one bill from your electric utility that details the electric supplier's charges separately. Alternatively, the supplier may issue a single bill detailing the utility's transmission and distribution charges separately. Or, you could receive separate bills from your utility and the supplier. You should ask the supplier when you are shopping what billing method would apply.
Will my LIHEAP and PIPP benefits be affected?
By law after January 1, 2020, you should not be enrolled with an alternative supplier if you have received LIHEAP funds during the previous 12 months or if you are currently participating in PIPP. There are two exceptions to this rule, (1) if the customer's change is due to a government aggregation program or (2) if the change in supplier is due to a Commission approved savings guarantee plan. If you are a current ARES customer receiving LIHEAP or participating in PIPP and a different supplier attempts to enroll you, the enrollment will be rejected and you will return to your original supplier. If you had chosen a supplier prior to January 1, 2020, you will remain with the supplier unless or until you cancel the contract which you may do without an early termination fee. If the supplier you chose uses the utility to bill on its behalf, you will not notice any change with regard to your LIHEAP or PIPP benefits. If the supplier you chose bills its customers directly then your PIPP will be cancelled and future LIHEAP benefits could be affected.
Will I save money?
That depends. You will need to contact suppliers providing service in your area for pricing information and then compare prices, charges and other agreement terms of the offers.
I'm on a budget payment plan with my utility. Can I continue with this plan if I enroll with a supplier?
Each supplier is different. Before switching, ask the supplier if they have programs to meet your payment needs.
If I choose an electric supplier, can I later switch to a different electric supplier or choose to go back to the utility's bundled service?
Yes. Suppliers are prohibited from applying early termination fees or penalties to residential and small commercial retail customers who terminate their contracts and switch to a different supplier or go back to the utility's service.
Who do I call if I have questions about my bill?
If questions relate to the delivery portion of your bill, you should call your local utility. For questions about the supply portion of the bill, call the supplier. Your utility and all suppliers have a complaint resolution process. Numbers for both the utility and supplier can be found on your bill. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may file a complaint with the ICC online or by calling 1-800-524-0795.
Are there any different rate options even if I currently do not want to select a different ARESelectric supplier?
Yes. Ameren Power Smart Pricing and ComEd Residential Real-Time Pricing (RRTP) customers pay electricity supply prices that vary by the hour and incent residential customers to better manage their electricity usage. With Ameren's residential real-time pricing program, hourly prices for the next day are set the night before and can be communicated to customers so they can determine the best times to use major appliances. With ComEd's residential real-time pricing program, prices are based on the actual real-time hourly market price of electricity during the day and customers are notified when real-time prices are high or are expected to be high so they can respond in real-time and shift the use of major appliances to lower priced hours. To participate in a residential real-time pricing program, customers without a smart meter must have a meter installed that is capable of recording hourly usage. Visit the real-time pricing websites at the links above for more information.