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Compare electricity rates in Illinois

Illinois offers the choice of electricity suppliers to consumers and businesses — and opportunities for kilowatt-hour rate savings.

Illinois became the first state in the Midwest to pass an energy deregulation bill in 1997, opening up the state’s electricity market to competition that allows residents to choose their electricity supplier. Select from more than 50 electricity suppliers in the Prairie State, each offering opportunities for the lowest kilowatt-hour rates and a variety of energy plans to compare.

How to find the cheapest electricity rate in Illinois

Finding the lowest electricity rates in Illinois requires comparing retail electric providers and energy plans to find the best fit to power your home or business. But first, you’ll want to know your average electricity use.

  1. Calculate your current energy use. Look at two or three of your most recent energy bills and average out your use by energy unit — per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity. This information will help you shop for similar or cheaper rates on the market.
  2. Shop by ZIP code on an energy marketplace. Marketplaces like EnergyBot can help you compare rates and energy plans specific to your residence with your ZIP code and information about your home.
  3. Compare energy providers and plans. Weigh kWh rates, contract terms and potential for savings to narrow down the best provider for your needs.

How to compare electricity plans

You have many independent electricity suppliers to choose from in Illinois, each offering different rates and energy plans. Factors to weigh when researching your options come down to rates and the type of plan that fits your electricity needs and budget.

Fixed, variable and hybrid rates

Providers in Illinois offer the choice of fixed, variable or hybrid kWh rates:

  • Fixed rates. Fixed-rate plans allow you to lock in a rate for an established contract term. They protect your budget from surprise rate spikes, though they can keep you from more easily switching providers with lower rates if the market dips.
  • Variable rates. Variable rates allow you to purchase energy without a contract. These plans give you the flexibility to jump to a different provider at any point, though you can expect to pay increased rates when demand is high, such as during colder weather months.
  • Hybrid rates. Fixed and floating options split your contract into a fixed rate for part of your term and a variable rate for another.

For variable rates, ask your potential provider if it limits how much rates can fluctuate, which can help you keep costs manageable.

Get the cheapest quotes on your electricity provider

Enter your ZIP code to see electricity providers near you.

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Key players in the Illinois energy market

Energy in the Prairie State is delivered through a complex system of utilities, ARES and co-ops that work together to get electricity from power plants to your front door.

Illinois Power Agency (IPA)

The IPA is a nonprofit that buys Illinois’s electricity on behalf of the two major electric utility companies, CommonWealth Edison and Amaren. It develops buying plans with a mission to “ensure adequate, reliable, affordable, efficient and environmentally sustainable electric service at the lowest total cost over time.”

Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)

The ICC is a state agency that regulates many of the public utilities offered to residents of Illinois, including electricity — here, public utilities also refers to private, nonmunicipal utilities in the state, a quirk of language around deregulation in Illinois.

The ICC is involved in how electricity is generated, supplied and delivered to homes and businesses in the state. Walking the line between fostering competition and protecting consumer rights, the agency doesn’t endorse alternative retail electric suppliers — or ARES.

Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA)

IMEA is a local nonprofit comprising 32 municipal electric systems across Illinois made up of 67 municipalities and nearly 70 members. Those systems own and operate their own electric distribution systems, with a handful of them operating their own generation plans. Until at least 2035, IMEA is responsible for buying electricity at wholesale prices, passing along the savings to cities within the agency.

Major electric utility companies

Electric utilities generate and deliver the electricity that powers homes and businesses. The three utilities in Illinois cover a specific territory.

Electric utilityAssigned territory
Ameren IllinoisCovers more than 1,200 communities in central and southern Illinois.
CommonWealth Edison (ComEd)Largest electric utility powering more than 4 million customers in northern Illinois, including Chicago.
MidAmericanSmaller electric utility in Illinois

Electric cooperatives

Established in 1942, the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives today represents some 30 electric member-cooperatives representing 15 electric distribution cooperatives and five generation and transmission cooperatives. It lobbies for the interests of co-ops and manages utility supplies and services.

Alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES)

More than 50 ARES in Illinois are certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission to buy electricity wholesale and transmit and deliver it to homes and businesses in the state, among them:

  • AEP Energy
  • Agera Energy
  • Ambit Northeast
  • American Illuminating Company
  • American Power & Gas
  • American Power Partners
  • American PowerNet Management
  • AP Gas & Electric
  • APN Starfirst
  • Aspirity Energy
  • Champion Energy
  • CleanChoice Energy
  • Clearview Energy
  • Constellation Energy
  • Direct Energy
  • Dynegy
  • EcoPlus Power
  • Eligo Energy
  • Energy Harbor
  • Energy Plus
  • Energy Rewards
  • Energy.ME
  • Engie Power & Gas
  • Entrust Energy
  • Freepoint Energy Solutions
  • Green Mount Energy
  • Greenlight Energy
  • Hero Power
  • Homefield Energy
  • IDT Energy
  • IGS Energy
  • Illinois Gas & Electric
  • Independence Energy
  • Indra Energy
  • Just Energy
  • Liberty Power
  • LifeEnergy
  • Major Energy
  • MC Squared Energy
  • Mega Energy
  • MidAmerican Energy
  • MP2 Energy
  • National Gas & Electric
  • NextEra Energy
  • Nordic Energy
  • North American Power
  • NRG
  • Oasis Energy
  • Realgy
  • ResCom Energy
  • Residents Energy
  • Rushmore Energy
  • Santanna Energy
  • SmartEnergy
  • Source Power & Gas
  • Spark Energy
  • Star Energy
  • Starion Energy
  • Stream Energy
  • Switch Energy
  • Think Energy
  • Tomorrow Energy
  • Verde Energy
  • Viridian Energy
  • Xoom Energy

Alternative energy companies

Most ARES in Illinois offer renewable or clean energy plans that come from natural sources or replenished processes, like wind, hydro or solar energy.

How to find the cheapest electricity rate in Illinois

Finding the lowest electricity rates in Illinois requires comparing retail electric providers and energy plans to find the best fit to power your home or business. But first, you’ll want to know your average electricity use.

  1. Calculate your current energy use. Look at two or three of your most recent energy bills and average out your use by energy unit — per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity. This information will help you shop for similar or cheaper rates on the market.
  2. Shop by ZIP code on an energy marketplace. Marketplaces like EnergyBot can help you compare rates and energy plans specific to your residence with your ZIP code and information about your home.
  3. Compare energy providers and plans. Weigh kWh rates, contract terms and potential for savings to narrow down the best provider for your needs.

How to compare electricity plans

You have many independent electricity suppliers to choose from in Illinois, each offering different rates and energy plans. Factors to weigh when researching your options come down to rates and the type of plan that fits your electricity needs and budget.

Fixed, variable and hybrid rates

Providers in Illinois offer the choice of fixed, variable or hybrid kWh rates:

  • Fixed rates. Fixed-rate plans allow you to lock in a rate for an established contract term. They protect your budget from surprise rate spikes, though they can keep you from more easily switching providers with lower rates if the market dips.
  • Variable rates. Variable rates allow you to purchase energy without a contract. These plans give you the flexibility to jump to a different provider at any point, though you can expect to pay increased rates when demand is high, such as during colder weather months.
  • Hybrid rates. Fixed and floating options split your contract into a fixed rate for part of your term and a variable rate for another.

For variable rates, ask your potential provider if it limits how much rates can fluctuate, which can help you keep costs manageable.

Get the cheapest quotes on your electricity provider

Enter your ZIP code to see electricity providers near you.

Your information is secure.


Introductory rates and signup bonuses

Many suppliers and providers offer lower advertised rates or bonuses to entice new customers. These bonuses can be reflected as a lump-sum savings or percentage knocked off the standard rate.

Introductory rates can last the first quarter of your contract, for six months or even the full term. Read the fine print of any offer to understand the rate you’ll pay after the bonus and avoid overpaying for your energy in the long term.

Contract terms and details

Understand the contract system of any supplier you’re interested in. Look at available terms, how the supplier handles renewals and whether you can cancel before your contract ends.

  • Contract terms. Contracts can range from three months to a year or more. Longer terms can be easier to manage, while shorter terms allow the flexibility to leverage market dips.
  • Contract renewal. Some providers require you to renew a contract term, allowing you to review or change the details of your rate schedule, while others automatically renew your terms unless you tell them not to.
  • Contract cancellation. Good news: Illinois is among the few states that prohibit suppliers from charging early termination or penalty fees when switching energy plans.
  • Late fees and grace periods. Ask potential providers about late fees and how many days after the due date you can make a payment without paying a penalty.

Costs and fees to expect in Illinois

Your electricity bills include home energy costs that can vary by utility provider or supplier.

  • Unit or consumption charges. Energy costs are expressed as kilowatt-hours (kWh) for electricity and therms for natural gas, with variances among residential, commercial and industrial customers.
  • Delivery and transmission costs. This is the cost a utility company charges to cover moving energy from power plants, across power lines and pipelines and to your meter.
  • Capacity or demand fee. Some electric companies charge a fee to cover the cost of ensuring enough electricity or gas when demand peaks.
  • Ratchet charges. Also related to demand, these are periodic fees charged by utilities to recoup costs related to surges in use.
  • Taxes. Most suppliers include tax costs in pricing schedules. Ask your supplier about taxes if you don’t see them clearly listed in your bill.
  • Other costs and fees. Some states and local governments charge fees that fund public policy programs related to such causes as energy conservation or support for vulnerable communities.

If you choose an alternative energy option, your energy bill may include fees associated with the renewables you choose.

How to switch electricity suppliers in Illinois

After you’ve found an electricity provider that fits your energy needs, gather up a current monthly bill and get ready for the big switch.

  • Call your new energy supplier. Confirm the details of your energy plan and ask any remaining questions. You may need to provide information from your current utility provider to transfer your account. Ask how long you can expect to wait until it’s completed.
  • Call your old provider. Your new supplier will notify your old supplier, but it’s helpful to confirm the process directly with your current company.
  • Review your first bill. Make sure the details of your new bill match your contract or agreement, and flag any issues as soon as possible for a fix.

Suppliers in Illinois are prohibited from charging early termination fees or penalties to residential and small commercial retail customers who terminate their contracts and switch to a different supplier.

Benefits of deregulation in Illinois

Energy suppliers in the Prairie State highlight the financial benefits of electricity choice, further advertising the benefits to the environment through renewable energy.

  • Competitive rates. In theory, deregulation requires suppliers to compete for your business, motivating quality service and keeping prices lower than regulated rates over time.
  • Flexibility of suppliers. Unlike the regulated market that chooses suppliers for you, the deregulated market allows you to customize suppliers and rates for control over how you power your home.
  • Access to alternative energy. Deregulation has allowed alternative energy suppliers to compete on the market, offering 100% renewable options to consumers.

What to look out for in Illinois

Results of deregulation are mixed, and there’s research to suggest that it doesn’t lead to the savings it promises over the regulated market. There’s also the potential for suppliers to lure customers into plans without transparency around the risks.

  • Elusive rates on Power to Choose. The state-run marketplace was designed for transparency, but customers say it’s rife with hidden rates and inconsistent comparisons that oversimplify the shopping process, trapping customers into high-cost contracts.
  • Shaky supply security. If generators aren’t able to meet demand, the system can collapse. These situations are rare but possible: In 2021, the Texas power grid failed due to unexpected extreme weather, resulting in an energy crisis that left more than 10 million people without heat — and electricity suppliers pointing fingers.
  • Potential for scams. A confusing deregulated market has resulted in unscrupulous suppliers targeting the elderly, low-income households and other vulnerable communities with aggressive calls to switch utility companies and promises to save money.

Brief history of energy deregulation in Illinois

The state passed the Illinois Electric Service Customer Choice and The Rate Relief Law in 1997, ushering in deregulation with the separation of supplying electricity from the state’s biggest utilities. By 2002, commercial customers had gained the ability to shop for energy suppliers, followed by access to residential customers in 2006.

Rates were frozen for 10 years under a mandatory transition period. Today, some 75% of commercial and industrial businesses are powered by alternative retail electric suppliers.

Utilities and politics: 2020 bribery scandal

In July 2020, the US Attorney’s office fined Commonwealth Edison Company a whopping $200 million after it was revealed the utility attempted to bribe a politician in exchange for pushing legislation favorable to ComEd — including laws that regulate electricity rates.

The government found that ComEd benefited from the scheme “at the expense of Illinois utility customers.” The scandal has prompted refunds to customers and an overhaul of utility regulation in the state, which continues into 2022.

Written by

Melanie Huddart

Melanie Huddart is a personal finance editor and updates writer who's proofed and polished thousands of articles to help people make more informed financial decisions. She specializes in issues around accessibility and equality, as well as removing biases in managing finances for people who are unbanked or marginally banked. Melanie is an ASL-English Interpreter with experience in writing and learning assistance in college and high school classrooms, teaching English and Indigenous studies both in-person and online. She holds a BA in honors English and a Bachelor of Education from York University in Toronto. See full profile

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