Dynamic pricing programs using real-time or day-ahead hourly electricity rates offer residential customers in Illinois innovative choices in how they pay for power. Energy efficiency advocates and leading economists have long recognized that residential electricity rates that reflect the actual market cost of electricity are essential to ensuring consumer benefits from a nationwide expansion of the smart grid. Market-based rates allow customers to adopt more energy efficient behaviors, and provide consumers with tools to save money by using cheaper, off-peak power.
CNT Energy paved the way for the nation’s first residential, market-based, hourly electricity pricing program in 2003 with the Energy-Smart Pricing Plan. Consumers got the option of paying hourly, market-based prices for electricity rather than the set, average price used in the standard residential rate. This innovate pilot program demonstrated that a well designed real-time pricing program can be an effective tool for reducing strain on electricity infrastructure, encouraging energy efficiency, and saving consumers money. Utilities, legislators, and regulators took notice, and real-time pricing became available on a large scale in Illinois starting in 2007.
On June 30, 2006, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed legislation requiring major utilities to provide residential consumers with access to hourly, market-based electricity prices. CNT Energy now administers Ameren Illinois Utilities’ Power Smart Pricing program which has passed $1 million dollars in energy cost savings for its participants. In Northern Illinois, CNT Energy provides consultation as well as a local presence for their Residential Real-Time Pricing program.