Choices for You—Making the Right Choice
The “Choices for You” program allows Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas customers to choose an alternative company to supply their natural gas.
How Does It Work?
Traditionally, a utility buys gas on the market and uses its pipelines to deliver fuel to your home. The utility is supposed to sell the gas at the same price it pays, with no markup. Opting for Choices For You means you will still pay Peoples Gas or North Shore Gas to deliver gas to your home, but you will pay a different company to buy and supply the actual gas. Unlike your utility, the rates and services of your new supplier will not be regulated or reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).
Are There Other Charges?
Yes, and these charges will inflate the advertised price. Some suppliers charge a monthly fee. Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas charge participants a “storage gas charge.” Beware of an “exit” fee if you want to get out of your plan before the term of service ends. Companies may have an “opt-out period” during which a customer can exit without being penalized. Find out when that period begins and ends. Always contact a company to verify all the charges.
What Gas Consumer Protections Does Illinois Have?
State law mandates that any customer signing up with an unregulated supplier on or after April 10, 2009…
- Has up to 10 days to cancel a contract once the supplier’s charges first appear on the gas bill without paying a cancellation penalty.
- Won’t have to pay a cancellation penalty higher than $50.
- Must give consent, through a signature and a third-party verification process, before being signed up for a door-to-door offer.
Avoiding Natural Gas Scams
- Don’t sign up for any offer on the spot. You may be charged a termination fee if you later want out.
- Don’t give out your utility account number to any sales representative at your door or over the phone.
- Don’t sign up for a new supplier until you compare the prices and terms of service with other companies, including your utility.
- If you’re not interested in switching suppliers, ask your gas utility to put a block on your account, which will prohibit any unauthorized changes to your service.
- If you don’t want unregulated gas companies to bother you with a sales pitch, get on your utility’s do-not-market list. Peoples Gas customers should call 1-866-556-6001. North Shore customers should call 1-866-556-6004.
Should I Participate in "Choices for You"?
There’s no guarantee you’ll save money. In fact, CUB’s Gas Market Monitor shows that consumers are much more likely to lose money with unregulated gas companies. Remember, Choices For You is optional. If you don’t sign up, you will continue to be served by Peoples Gas or North Shore Gas, with rates regulated by the ICC. If you find Choices For You too confusing or too risky, you’re not alone.
What are the Offers?
Compare the prices below with Peoples Gas’ current 41.82¢ per therm variable rate or North Shore Gas’ 48.78¢ per therm variable rate.
*This is a snapshot of plans being offered. The rates and details of these offers can change often, even daily. Beware that plans may change drastically after the initial term. A “storage gas charge” may add a few dollars per month to Choices For You participants’ bills. Please note that Choices for You customers may pay Peoples Gas or North Shore Gas slightly different delivery charges to pipe the heating fuel from their alternative supplier to their home. Call a company to verify all charges, to get a plan in writing, and to find out what happens to that plan after the initial term. The rates only reflect the price of natural gas. Peoples Gas or North Shore Gas will continue to bill you for the cost of delivering gas to your home.
Prices as of February 15, 2017.
- 90.41¢ per therm monthly variable rate (91.41¢ for North Shore).
- 43.5¢ per therm 12-month fixed rate (47.9¢ for North Shore).
Cancellation fee — No
Monthly fee — No
Constellation Energy Services
- 45.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate.(45.9¢ for North Shore Gas.)
- 46.9¢ per therm 18 month fixed rate.(46.9¢ for North Shore Gas.)
Cancellation fee — $50 (10-day opt-out period after you receive your first bill).
Monthly fee— None
Offer(s) for Peoples Gas & North Shore Gas
- 45.9¢ per therm 12-month fixed rate. (45.9¢ for North Shore Gas)
- 45.9¢ per therm 18-month fixed rate. (44.9¢ per therm for military [Web Only]). (Same for North Shore)
- 54.9¢ per therm 27-month fixed rate with Nest Thermostat. (Same for North Shore)
Cancellation fee —$200 for plan w/ Nest Thermostat.
Monthly fee — None
- 46.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate (46.9¢ for North Shore Gas)
- 41.9¢ per therm 1- year fixed rate (42.9¢ for North Shore Gas)
- 40.9¢ per therm 18-month fixed rate (40.9¢ for North Shore Gas)
Cancellation fee — $50 (for plans 2 and 3.)
Monthly fee — None
Just Energy (formerly U.S. Energy Saving Corps.)
- 53.9¢ per therm 3 or 5-year fixed rate (20% “green energy” option).
- 55.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate (20% “green energy” option).
Cancellation fee — $50 (10-day opt-out period after you receive your first bill.)
Monthly fee — None
Nicor Advanced Energy
- Lock 12: CUB has yet to find any customers who have saved money under Lock 12, which charges a set monthly bill for a year based on a formula known only by the company. Because the offer partly depends upon usage history, the cost varies by customer. There is a $50 fee if you cancel after 10 days of receiving your first bill. See CUB’s fact sheet, Nicor’s “Lock 12” Plans.
- PriceGuard: 49.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate. It’s not exactly clear how the fixed price is determined. It is based on “several factors such as the current price of natural gas and other program costs.” There is a $50 fee if you cancel after 10 days of receiving your first bill.
- 50.1¢ per therm variable rate. No cancelation fee.
- Flex: Unlike most variable plans, which change on a monthly basis, this one changes daily, based on a market index price called the Gas Daily Daily (GDD). The company takes your total monthly usage and estimates how much you used each day based on a “typical” profile of residences in your area and actual weather. The daily usage is multiplied by the GDD (PLUS a “set cost per therm”), for each day of the billing period to come up with a total billing amount. There is no cancellation fee.
- TruBalance: A 50-50 combination of a variable price per therm and a fixed price per therm. Half of your usage is based on a variable price that moves up and down with the market price weekly. The other half of the usage is based on a fixed rate determined on the day you sign up for the program and remains unchanged for a year. There is a $50 fee if you cancel after 10 days of receiving your first bill.
NOTE: Given the structure of most of these these plans, it’s impossible to make an “apples-to-apples” comparison with the rate offered by Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, the utilities. Nicor Advanced Energy acknowledges you “may or may not save money” compared to the regulated Peoples/North Shore rates.
Nordic Energy Services
- 37.3¢ per therm variable rate. (3-month introductory rate)
- 39¢ per therm variable rate. (3-month introductory rate)
- 45¢ per therm variable rate. (3-month introductory rate)
Cancellation fee — No
Monthly fee — No
Realgy Energy Services
Santana Energy Services
- 0.4598¢ per therm for 12 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.4946¢ per therm for 36 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.4572¢ per therm for 21 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.5524¢ per therm for 1 month fixed, term free, 25% renewable
North Shore Gas
- 0.4898¢ per therm for 36 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.4546¢ per therm for 12 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.4521¢ per therm for 21 month fixed, 25% renewable
- 0.5524¢ per therm for 1 month, term free, 25% renewable
Cancellation fee — $50 exit fee
Monthly fee — No.
Vista Energy Marketing Services, LP
- 47.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate.
- 50.9¢ per therm 1-year fixed rate.
- 48.9¢ per therm 2-year fixed rate
- 38.9¢ per therm variable rate (3-month promotional rate)
Cancellation fee — $50 exit fee for plans 1-3.
Monthly Fee — None