Community Choice is called Municipal Electricity Aggregation (MEA) in Illinois. MEA became wildly popular from 2011 to 2013 because it offered very significant savings to customers. When savings largely disappeared in 2014-15, many MEAs ceased operations, however from 2016 on, MEAs have been re-launching and/or forming with favorable pricing.
In 2023, Illinois has almost 400 communities with active MEAs and a strong base of political support.
communities with Local CCA Authorization
active CCA communities
inactive CCA communities
MWh of annual load (2022)
statewide population participants
6 to 36
Use this interactive map to explore CCA communities across Illinois.
Use your mouse to zoom in and click on flags for more information.
Municipal electricity aggregation in the Illinois operates in a competitive retail environment. A functional separation between power generation and power delivery has existed since the 1990s. Municipalities or individual customers are able to sign contracts to buy power from licensed Alternative Retail Energy Suppliers (ARES). However, before the introduction of MEA, few residential customers took the trouble to switch to electricity from alternative suppliers.
As in other Community Choice states, Illinois’ large utilities – ComEd and Ameren Illinois – continue to handle power transmission and distribution, line maintenance and customer billing. Because the retail market was already open, the utilities expressed no opposition to the introduction of municipal aggregation. ARES companies supported the introduction and growth of MEA because it reduced their customer acquisition costs.
Most CCA communities in the state contract with a consultant to choose the energy supplier during the procurement process. After that, the supplier is in charge of managing the program. It is a shared effort between the local government’s staff, the energy supplier, and the aggregation consultant.
In 2012-13 Illinois was the fastest growing community choice market in the nation. The growth was caused by MEAs initially having a pricing advantage of as much as 3 cents/kWh over the incumbent power suppliers. MEAs offered rates of about 5 cents/kWh at a time when ComEd was charging about 8 cents/kWh.
Capping this period of heady growth, Chicago voters approved a referendum in November, 2012 to launch an MEA, making it by far the largest US city to embrace community choice. More than 70% of residential and small commercial customers in ComEd’s service region were enrolled in MEA in late 2013.
By the middle of 2014 more than 720 Illinois communities had formed MEAs; however, in the second half of 2014 the price advantage that MEAs had enjoyed began to erode and, in some cases, became a price disadvantage - the two large investor-owned utilities were able to obtain cheaper electricity supplies and lower their rates. Consequently, approximately 100 MEAs (including Chicago in 2015) returned their customers to bundled service provided by Ameren Illinois and ComEd. (Doing this did not terminate the existence of an MEA. It essentially suspended the MEA so that it could be restarted if conditions changed, and no new referendum would be required to do so.)
By 2016 many MEA programs were once again able to sign contracts with suppliers that offered a slight price advantage (up to 1 cent/kWh) over utility prices to their customers, which stemmed the decline in the number of MEAs.
As of May, 2022, Illinois has more communities that have enabled CCA, whether their program is active or not, than all other states combined. To date, 746 communities –including counties, cities, townships, towns, and villages– have enabled a CCA local law, of which, 379 were active as of May 21, 2022.
The average CCA rates in Illinois have recently become more attractive in large part because many CCA communities initiated two-year electricity supply contracts at a time when electricity rates were low.
Illinois has more political jurisdictions participating in aggregation programs than all other states combined.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 44 of the top 100 Green Power Partnership communities are in Illinois
Although rate savings have always been the primary impetus for MEA formation in Illinois, some municipalities have prioritized purchasing electricity generated by renewable resources, particularly wind energy. Other cities – perhaps as many of half of Illinois’ MEAs — purchase energy from coal, nuclear and combined cycle gas plants, but offset the associated greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing unbundled renewable energy certificates (RECs). A recent poll conducted in April, 2019 shows that a super-majority of Illinois residents want to be able to choose their energy supplier, choose clean energy, and want more renewable energy in the Illinois power system.
The Illinois Renewable Energy Investment Act SB 316 and HB 1747, passed in 2021, was a sweeping energy regulation overhaul that aims to phase out carbon emissions from the energy sector by 2045 while diversifying the renewable energy workforce. Included in the bill is a mandate to close fossil fuel plants between 2030 and 2045, depending on the source and carbon emissions level, subsidizes three nuclear plants with $694 million paid over a period of five years, and increases subsidies for renewable energy by more than $350 million annually.
The Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law of 1997 significantly restructured the Illinois electric industry and provided a transition to competitive retail markets. It allowed alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES) to compete against each other and the utility to service customers. Customer choice was phased-in starting in October, 1999 for commercial and industrial customers and in May, 2002 for residential customers. The Illinois Commerce Commission was charged to promote the development of an effectively competitive electricity market.
CCA (a.k.a. MEA) PROGRAMS
CCA POWER PROVIDERS
INVESTOR OWNED UTILITIES
Plug In Illinois
U.S. Energy Information Administration, Illinois State Energy Profile
Illinois Power Agency
CCA-Enabling Legislation: House Bill 362
Guide to Municipal Electricity Aggregation
Riverside sticking with 100% green power program. Riverside-Brookfield Landmark, July 3, 2023
It's time to make your decision on community aggregation. Here's a few things to consider. WCBU.org, June 20, 2023
Lake Zurich making green energy option available to residents. Dailey Herald, June 1, 2023
Paxton reinstating electric aggregation program. Fordcountychronicle.com, February 22, 2023
Galesburg Mayor Explains Why Most Residents Are Protected From Energy Price Hikes. WGIL.com, December 27, 2022
Chicago’s Plan for 100 Percent Clean Municipal Electricity. nrdc.org, August 29, 2022
Central Illinois energy rates to double, stick around for a year. hoiabc.com, June 6, 2022
Think your Ameren energy bill was high last winter? Just wait for this summer. Peoria Journal Star, April 27, 2022