While Illinois implemented electricity deregulation several years ago, many residents remain unfamiliar with the policy, and more generally with the functioning of the electricity market.
As residents of Canton, Illinois, prepare to decide whether or not they want to allow the city to negotiate with an electricity provider to try to find lower electricity rates, CantonDailyLedger.com spoke with the city's utility company, Ameren Illinois, to clarify the meaning of the decision.
Ameren is one of the two largest utilities in Illinois, providing electricity for more than 1.2 million customers from around the state.
Despite this, the company actually encourages customers to compare electricity rates with some of the retail electricity providers registered in its services.
The point of electricity deregulation is to encourage a competitive market where reasonable and to strictly regulate industries that cannot reasonably be competitive. The delivery of electricity is expected as a standard service for residents and businesses, so the law allows utility companies to sell electricity only at rates high enough to cover their costs, earning their profits from actually transmitting power.
As of October of last year, a relatively small 58,700 customers had chosen to switch electricity providers in Ameren's service area, but those numbers are likely to grow steadily, according to PlugInIllinois.