Electric and Gas Choice Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about Illinois Competitive Energy Association and how the association and its member companies provide electric and gas choice in Illinois’ energy markets.

What is an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier (ARES)?

An ARES was established by the 1997 Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law to provide all electric customers in the Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and in the Ameren Illinois (Ameren) service areas 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 73% of all electricity consumed in the state.

What is an Alternative Gas Supplier (AGS)?

Residential and small business customers of Nicor Gas, North Shore Gas, and Peoples Gas utilities have the option to purchase their natural gas supply from an AGS. Larger commercial and industrial natural gas customers buy competitive natural gas service from among a large number of suppliers nationwide as a result of federal deregulation laws in the 1980’s. 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. Fifty percent of all gas usage in the State is AGS-provided.

What is Municipal or Governmental Aggregation?

Illinois law allows a municipality, township, or county to negotiate for and competitively bid out the purchase of the combined electric supply of its residents and eligible small businesses to alternative retail electric suppliers. Aggregation is not available to customers served by electric cooperatives or municipal owned and operated distribution electric companies at this time. Communities may choose aggregation because they are able to help their residents and small businesses save money by creating a combined customer group that has more buying power than individual residents and businesses and/or they may choose an electric supply offer that includes a higher percentage of “green” power. Illinois law does not provide for gas aggregation programs at this time.

Why Care?

ICEA member companies provide energy supply service to retail customers with competitive pricing and customized products and services as an alternative to purchasing energy from the local utility. Our member companies understand that every customer’s needs are different, and they identify the energy plan that provides the most value for that customer. The competitive supplier delivers a range of risk management tools, innovative products, and value-added services that are designed to help residential customers manage their energy costs and our business customers to compete in today’s marketplace.

ARES-served customers include households and communities; manufacturers and retail merchants; schools districts, colleges and universities; park districts; cultural and religious institutions; hospitals; sporting facilities; office buildings and condo associations; hotels; restaurants; grocery stores; city, county, and State government buildings and services.