Changing electricity companies could leave you spare change

You may be able to save money on your electric bill in Illinois, and you may not even know about it.

Residential electric customers have been able to choose who they buy their electricity from since 2002, but there haven't been any options...until now.

Back in 1997, the Illinois Legislature passed electric deregulation into law, opening the door for competition.

You may want to pay close attention to your mail these days. It can look like junk mail, but it could save you some money.

A couple weeks ago I got this letter in the mail from an energy company. It says I could buy my electricity from them instead of Ameren Illinois.

At first glance, I thought this was a scam. Turns out, it's not.

Leigh Morris says, "The electricity you buy from Ameren Illinois, we sell to you what we pay for it. In other words, we collect exactly what we paid for it. There's no profit, there's no loss. The money that Ameren Illinois makes is on delivery service."

Leigh Morris with Ameren says think of Ameren Illinois like this. It simply delivers a product to your different then the postal service, UPS, or Fed Ex. If you order a shirt on line, you choose who ships it to you. That's the way electric deregulation works. Ameren will always deliver the electricity to your house, but you can buy it from another company.

Morris says, "We're neutral on the whole issue. We will not recommend anybody. We do encourage you to investigate completely your options."

There are several websites you can go to do to that research.

Morris says, "There's no guarantees that any particular choice is going to save you the maximum amount until you do your homework. You need to take a look at them and decide what's best for you. One of the things I remind people is what is a good program for you, might not be a good program for someone else."

Just make sure the company you choose is certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Right now, there are eight certified.

The deregulation law allows this for investor owned utilities only...meaning co-ops and municipality owned companies aren't eligible.

Those websites are:

Now that you know about this option ... will you try to switch? Post your comments on our Facebook page here ... we may even use your comments in our newscast!