CHAMPAIGN — Residents should expect to receive a letter from the city soon, informing them of the coming changes to their monthly power bill.
"Opt-out" letters will be mailed today to eligible participants of the city's municipal electric aggregation program, which city officials expect will save customers 33 percent on the electricity supply portion of their power bill.
To receive the lower rate, which city officials said could save a typical customer about $159 annually, recipients of the letter should not respond.
"The folks don't have to do anything at all," said Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt. "They're automatically enrolled in the program."
Customers would need to respond if they decide they do not want to participate. In other words, they'll have to "opt out."
That can be accomplished by returning the postcard that will be included with the letter; calling Integrys Energy Services toll-free at 888-491-1362; or online at http://www.integrysenergy.com/il-champaign.
Most households will get the letter.
Those who will not receive the letter are customers who have already signed a contract with an independent retail electric supplier, those who are on an hourly or "real-time" pricing program or customers who receive an electric-heat discount.
Schmidt said those customers, however, should expect to receive "opt-in" letters in the coming weeks informing them of the opportunity to join the city's program, which could save money for some of those customers.
Anyone who joins the Champaign program — including the majority of residents who will be automatically enrolled — should expect to start seeing savings on their September power bill.
The cities of Champaign and Urbana both are in the process of initiating municipal electric aggregation programs. "Opt-out" letters in Urbana were mailed last month.
The program, which voters approved by a 2-to-1 margin during a March referendum, gives the city the authority to act as a broker for its residents' electric rates. Individual residents already have the option to do that for themselves, but the vast majority do not.
Champaign residents will be paying 4.149 cents per kilowatt hour when they are switched over to the new rate this summer. That is about 2 cents lower than the summer default rate and 1.5 cents lower than the winter rate.
The city has also purchased 100 percent renewable energy.
Mayor Don Gerard said the program is an "outstanding opportunity" to save money and use renewable resources.
City officials expect the program could save the city as a whole $3.9 million annually.