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Chicago Voters Approve Bulk Power-Buying Plan

Electric Meter (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Electric Meter (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

schlessinger250 Regine Schlesinger
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago residents likely will be able to get cheaper electricity from an alternate supplier, after approving a measure allowing City Hall to negotiate cheaper rates on behalf of residents and small businesses.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, with 98 percent of the vote counted, 56 percent of voters in Chicago approved a referendum allowing the city to negotiate with an alternative supplier to ComEd to supply power for 930,000 households and businesses in the city.

Jim Chilsen, with the Citizens Utility Board, said the measure means Chicagoans will save money on their electric bills.

He said CUB, a utility watchdog group, will be watching “how Chicago and other municipalities structure deals to protect consumers beyond June of 2013, when ComEd’s rates are expected to drop significantly.”

Chilsen also said the move doesn’t mean Chicago residents would no longer be ComEd customers.

“We’re talking about the supply part of your bill, which is about two-thirds. But, because ComEd owns all the electric infrastructure, it will still have to deliver electricity to your homes,” he said.

Dozens of other municipalities in the Chicago area already have switched from ComEd to other electric suppliers.

Looking at the deals negotiated by other municipalities, Chilsen said this should save Chicago electric customers about $100 million dollars in the first five months of next year.

“The average rate has been about 4.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, and you can compare that to ComEd’s current rate – which is through May of 2013 – which is at 8.32 cents per kilowatt-hour,” he said.

Individual consumers already can opt for a different supplier on their own, but by allowing the city to negotiate with suppliers for bulk rates, Chicago residents should be able to see even cheaper rates than they could get individually.