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ComEd Rate Hike 2011: ComEd announces a rate proposal that would cut bills. Using the term “cut” loosely. Very loosely.

According to a recent Crain’s article, ComEd filed with state regulators to establish a new formula to set rates, and consumers will potentially see a decrease in rates for six months.

Since most people have 5-second attention spans anymore (myself included) and therefore only read headlines, a majority will walk away with the following incorrect assumption:
Wow, ComEd is actually going to reduce rates for once in my lifetime! Brilliant! Now I have no reason to switch electricity suppliers, right?? Power2Switch can go ahead and close their doors now — their work is done!

Yeahhh, no. Reel it back in, people. Now, I’ve been a marketer for a long time, always trying to find an angle, and I’m entirely keen to what ComEd is trying to accomplish here. There’s no wool over these twinklin’ brown eyes. (I must admit that I do admire them a little bit for their nerve. That’s some nerve, I tell ya.)

Ok, back to my point. First of all, if you read closely, you’ll see that the change affects delivery only. Supply — which is where it really hurts — is not affected. And that is a decrease of a mere 0.2%. Yes, that’s a zero in front of that 2. So, what does that decrease actually equate to? Hmm, let’s see…  on my bill last month, I spent $21.84 on delivery charges. That includes a “customer charge” and a “standard metering” charge, which I am sure will be excluded when factoring the decrease, but I’ll include them here just to give ComEd the benefit of the doubt. Ok, so if I multiply 21.84 x .002, I end up with a rate decrease of 0.04. Wait, let me do the math again…  yep, that’s FOUR CENTS. And for six whole months, no less. Now my kids can go to college! Maybe even out of state! Wahoo!

Truly, I’m still trying to figure out how you can initiate a microscopic rate decrease for six months while a woolly mammoth-esque, 10-year-long rate increase is in progress concurrently…  but that’s just me. I guess I would need to go work for the government to find the logic in that.

So, exactly what have we learned today?

  1. The term “decrease” means very different things to different people. My general rule is: If I can save more money by stealing from a fountain — or my 2-year old’s piggy bank, who happens to be out of work — it’s really not worth writing about.
  2. ComEd likely sprained their sternocleidomastoid desperately searching for this marketing angle.
  3. ComEd’s delivery rate “decrease” notwithstanding, finding a new electricity supplier now will not only offset the upcoming $3/mo. delivery rate increase, but it can also save you up to 13% on top of that. And for much longer than a mere six months. Enough said. (And sprain-free.)

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