Your monthly bill is comprised of 3 sections: electricity supply, delivery charges and taxes/fees. All charges are regulated by the State unless you are buying from a 3rd party supplier. In that case the electricity supply price is not regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).
Electricity supply is comprised of your actual electricity usage in kWh multiplied by your price per kWh for the month. There are additional finer details to this portion of your bill, but they are beyond the scope of this narrative. This is the largest portion of your bill at 54%
Delivery charges are comprised of a "customer charge" which varies by meter size, meter charge, wires or facilities charge, and distribution charge. Typically 33% of bill.
Taxes/Fees are State approved and represent 13% of a typical bill.
Again unless you are buying from a 3rd party supplier, every section of your bill is regulated by the ICC. While this may feel comfortable, when buying from the public utility you are buying from a former monopoly. And to optimize your price you must switch to a 3rd party supplier.
Just like your electricity bill, your monthly gas bill is comprised of 3 sections: gas supply, delivery charges and taxes/fees.
However, the percentages of each component of your gas bill are much different than your electricity bill. The largest portion of your gas bill is gas supply at 70%+. This makes your gas bill far more volatile than your electricity bill; therefore one should seriously consider a fixed price for gas supply
Delivery charges also vary by meter type and include "monthly customer charge. Delivery charges are those costs incurred by the utility to safely and reliably deliver your gas as needed on any given day 24/7/365. Delivery charges are far lower than for electricity and represents about 20% of your gas bill.
Taxes/fees surcharges are State approved and represent about 10% of a particular gas bill.
Natural gas and electricity once were the most volatile commodities traded in the world. Gas and electricity are traded on the NYMEX a nationally recognized trading platform. Since the inception of these trading platforms we've seen volatility or price swings of 50% in a single day due to weather, international events, mechanical breakdown and even demand on the system which causes national adjustments to keep the entire gas and electricity grid reliable serving it customers no matter what.
Crossfire believes a new day has dawned in the United States. The past assumed that we were at what is called"peak supply" of gas or oil for example. And this prediction was based on intensive multinational company analyses. Peak gas and oil production was predicted to have occurred in late 1970's and showed the world was on a downward spiral. And further concluded hydrocarbons were not going to be able to sustain the world economy in the future. Updates since had concluded similar.
Fast forward to the 2000's and suddenly an American company tested fracing shale. This exact technique had never been done before, despite geologists knowing many shale formations contained significant oil and gas. But these energy sources had not been considered recoverable because shale has no porosity or permeability. Fracing changed that almost overnight. Fracing created fractures in the shale allowing gas and oil to flow. Fracing a simple shale formation has become a major source of natural gas and oil. Today for the first time since the 60's the U.S. is the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world.
That said Crossfire sees stable prices for energy for many years. This is bolstered by fracing technology spreading worldwide thus bringing tremendous new sources of energy to market.
Not long ago it was predicted that the world was on the brink of oil and gas shortages. That has been reversed and supply seems to be trending upward thus stabilizing prices long-term
Renewable energy is often touted as the answer to the world's demand for electricity... it's a less polluting source, which is ideal for the environment, but renewable energy often requires government subsidies. Thus far renewable energy has not lived up to the hype.
Solar and wind are the most recognizable sources of renewable energy.
But, production of solar based electricity has yet to make a meaningful impact in national markets except in California and Texas.
There are at least two issues with solar. First, solar farms can take as much as 15 acres of land to generate enough electricity for 2,000 homes. Second, location dramatically affects economics. Rural locations are far more cost effective, but lack the infrastructure to move power to market
Today in Illinois generation of solar power is minimal, but that could soon change. By 2025 Illinois has mandated 25% of power be produced from renewable energy. Here are state-by-state stats on solar.
Production of wind based electricity in Illinois is becoming noticeable as compared to any other renewable energy source at 4.3% of total electricity generation. Wind too has issues. First, when it's extremely hot the wind often subsides thus reducing electricity generation at a time that it is needed most. And second, many people find the wind towers a bit of an eyesore.
Below are stats by state on wind power generation.
With this as background, many people are desirous of buying electricity from renewable sources.
Crossfire has examined renewable energy in Illinois and can guide you through the tricky ways to purchase. As a consumer caution is in order as renewable power slowly becomes a meaningful source of power in Illinois.
Electricity travels through a series of long- distance transmission lines and local distribution facilities at nearly the speed of light or 186,000 miles/sec. Given this, a utility's infrastructure must operate at the highest at peak performance. The diagram above gives you a sense of the various components of an electrical grid.
Deregulation allows any 3rd party company to sell you electricity. They must work out the transmission of electricity to the local grid and in turn transmit this power through the utility's grid and simply pay the utility a fee for using their grid, In addition these companies will charge you for the electricity your business consumed. No longer are you confined to purchasing your electricity supply exclusively from a regulated monopoly utility such as Com Ed.
Illinois Commerce Commission Website
Department of Transportation maps of energy infrastructure
The units of energy consumed is used determine your monthly bill. But these units can be confusing as they are often based on Greek and Latin.
For example, the first letter "c" in ccf stands for 10 units. So a "ccf" is 10 cubic feet when shown on your gas bill. This quantity is equivalent to a "therm". So a therm and ccf are more less equal. Each month your gas utility collects the total units used by every customer on their system. Armed with this information, they calculate your "gas supply cost", your "delivery charge" and finally your "taxes and fees". These three amounts are used to calculate your total bill.
Electricity's unit of measure is much more complicated. A unit of power is based on time not quantity. A "kWh" is a 1000 watts for an hour. The "k"is used for kilo or 1,000, "W" is for a watt, and "h" is for an hour. So if ten 100 watt bulbs burn for a single hour that is equal to 1 kWh.
Some statistics on residential and commercial electricity usage and rates by State are at the link below:
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