The City of Chicago laid out a timeline Thursday for how it intends to quickly complete a deal that would move approximately 950,000 Chicagoans to a new electricity supplier.
The timing of the deal is important because Chicagoans stand to save the most money over Commonwealth Edison's rate between now and June 2013, when ComEd's prices are expected to drop because pricey contracts they entered into years ago will expire. The timeline has Chicagoans moving to the new supplier in February 2013.
In Tuesday's election, Chicago voters passed a proposal to allow the city to negotiate for better electricity prices on behalf of residential customers and small businesses. The city is one of hundreds of Illinois communities participating in so-called electricity aggregation and is by far the largest city in the nation to attempt such a large bulk purchase for electricity.
Michael Negron, deputy chief of policy and strategic planning for the mayor's office, said electricity suppliers have shown great interest in snagging Chicago's service. Nearly 100 people packed a conference Monday for the city's "request for qualifications" process. The bidders ranged from multi-billion corporations to smaller providers from all over the country, he said. Industry analysts say the deal could be worth hundreds of millions of dollar to the winning supplier or suppliers.
The timeline is as follows:
Nov. 14: Municipal aggregation ordinance introduced as substitute ordinance in city finance committee
Nov. 21: Bidder responses to request for qualifications due
Nov. 26 - Dec. 11: Finance committee will conduct two public hearings on aggregation ordinance
Early December: City and Delta Institute convene stakeholder process for identifying options for a portion of savings to go toward increased energy efficiency or the development of cleaner, renewable energy sources.
Dec. 5: Qualified pool of energy providers announced
Dec. 6: Issuance of request for pricing; responses due within days. The sole selection criteria at this point will be price because the RFQ phase will have screened out bidders based on their capacity, financial stability, customer service and ability to deliver cleaner energy.
Dec. 12: City Council considers aggregation ordinance
Mid/Late-December: Opt-out letters are sent to approximately 1 million customers
Early January: Opt-out data processed and final customer list prepared.
February: Participating Chicago customers are switched over the course of the month
March: All Chicago ratepayers who have not opted out are under the new supplier. City will announce its plan for investment of savings into cleaner energy or improved energy efficiency.