What Does The Jargon On My Comed Bill Mean?

March 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Since we started the residential switching service we’ve heard this question over and over again:

‘what do these lines on my Comed bill mean?’

We heard it from our small commercial clients and we could answer their questions individually. But we realized it would be best to provide our residential customers a detailed explanation. Call it our “Comed bill reference guide’. It’s also on the Comed site but we’ve used simple English (where possible) so you can also become an expert on these things…It’s a bit long but should provide you all you need.

Here goes…


Starting from the left side of the Sample Bill:

Your Usage Profile (13-month usage) Total KWhChart showing how much electricity you used in the last month.

Electricity Usage – The chart (above) shown in numbers.

KwH (Kilowatt per hour) – Is the standard measure of electricity used (think of it like miles per gallon)

Account Number – A unique customer identification number (just like you have one for your bank account)

Service Address – If the electricity is for your home then it’s your home address. If it’s for your business then it’s your business address.

Phone Number – Primary phone number provided by customer

Issue Date – Date bill was created.

Previous Balance – Previous bill amount

Total Payments – A summary of payments received since the last bill. It’s zero if you paid your bill, negative if you didn’t.

Amount Due/Due Date – Amount you owe the electricity company and when the payment sis due

Meter Number – Customer’s unique meter identification number (some customers, mainly businesses, have multiple meters)

Load Type – Type of service rendered – all residential customers are general service. For the commercial segment there are different types (more details in next blog post)

Meter Reading Type

  1. Actual – usage data from your meter when Comed have come out and read your meter.
  2. Customer – usage data from the meter when you’ve read your meter yourself.
  3. Estimated – estimated usage data based on your historical usage (that chart above)

Multiplier X – A factor applied to usage readings for certain kinds of meters to accurately determine usage.  Comed determines this mystery X number

Usage – The difference between what you used before, what your meter reads now multiplied by the ‘X’ that applies to your meter type (measured in KwH)

Customer Rate – Your service classification (similar to how much you’re charged based on your ‘phone plan’)

Electricity Supply Charge – A charge for electricity provided during the billing period. NOTE: THIS IS WHAT CHANGES WHEN YOU SWITCH TO A NEW SUPPLIER!!!

Transmission Services Charge – A ‘toll’ charge for transmission system cost during the billing period.

Purchased Electricity Adjustment – A charge or credit to ‘true-up’ the cost of electricity supplied. It’s for balancing the books.

Customer Charge – A monthly charge to recover part of Comed’s cost.

Standard Metering Charge – A charge for the cost of the meter, meter reading and other metering services.

Distribution Facilities Charge – Another ‘toll’ charge for costs incurred by the electricity provider for delivering electricity to you.

Smart Meter Program – An approved pilot to evaluate smart meter technology

Environmental Cost Recovery Adjustment – A charge or credit related to the recovery of certain environmental cleanup costs.

Energy Efficiency Program – A charge to fund the smart ideas portfolio of energy efficiency incentives mandated by law.

Franchise Cost – A fee to recover costs related to the franchise agreement between the electricity supplier and the customer’s municipality.

State TaxA state or local tax levied upon customers


Message Center – marketing and account specific messages placed on the bill. We’re hoping to get some more information on here for you.

And that’s it (long I know). Your reference guide for when you’re not quite sure what is going on with your bill.

Let us know what you think, does it make sense?

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‘Chicago Tonight’ on Switching

March 25, 2011 § Leave a comment


The electricity switching industry in Illinois is heating up. And, as we’ve been saying for the last few weeks, Comed is getting out of the Supply Side of the market and hence they are pretty comfortable with customers moving to other Retail Electricity Suppliers.

Exciting times ahead.

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Are we actually as green as we think we are?

March 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

So I sat in conversation with a friend a few days ago at an event where the Chevy Volt was being displayed/test driven. Our conversation very quickly drifted to how beneficial this ‘green/sustainable’ movement towards electric cars, cfl bulbs etc is. Then I watched ‘Tapped‘ and decided I’d do a post on how some of the things we do, with the intention of becoming ‘green(er)’ or healthier might actually be doing more damage than good.


All things green and sustainable!


I’m sure there are many examples out there but I’ll pick three things I’ve interacted with today:

Electric vehicles: So if you buy a Volt (or any other electric car) and choose to charge the vehicle at a time when you would otherwise not be taking electricity from the grid then you might be using electricity generated from fossil fuel sources (Coal, Gas). In this case the net effect of you moving from regular petrol to electricity for your car might actually be zero or (in the worst case) negative. You’ve probably just bought a more expensive car (which makes you feel good about how ‘green’ you are…

A way to ensure the net effect is positive is to use electric car chargers powered by renewable energy to recharge your car.

Bottled Water: If your water was put in a bottle in a plant and transported to that store shelf you picked it up from then there has been some use of petroleum products (resin used in bottle manufacture, diesel for the truck, electricity for pumping the water from the water source etc). And that plastic bottle is made from petroleum resin which comes with some health implications (there is the whole BPA discussion that I won’t get into here).

Glass (made of sand) provides a more earth friendly option for reusable bottles or just get a glass cup and add a filter to your tap.

CFL bulbs: If you read our post on disposing of CFL light bulbs then you know that they contain mercury and improper disposal can result in contamination of water (through landfills) or exposure to mercury vapor (which is bad).

The simple solution is to dispose of the bulbs properly when they break but more importantly be careful with the bulbs so they provide the value they are supposed to provide during use.

Any other examples? Thoughts on this whole movement?

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ComEd’s Competition: Spark, Champion and Direct Energy compete with ComEd for customers – WGN

March 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

ComEd’s Competition: Spark, Champion and Direct Energy compete with ComEd for customers – WGN.


Age Discrimination in the Clean Energy Workforce? | FreeAsTheWind

March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Age Discrimination in the Clean Energy Workforce? | FreeAsTheWind.

If you were to ask hiring managers if they had discriminated against older workers, I’m sure most of them would tell you that they hadn’t. Nobody likes to thing of themselves as a bigot.

But the fact is, older job seekers have a harder time finding employment than their younger counterparts.  According to an article in the New York Times entitled, Longer Unemployment for Workers Over 45 Years Old, job seekers over 45 years old can expect to remain unemployed 37% longer than job seekers under 45. Figures from theBureau of Labor Statistics further illustrate the problem. According to the Bureau, older workers are disproportionately represented in the “Long Term Unemployed” (i.e. workers who have been unemployed for at least 6 months).

Read the rest below: http://bit.ly/gfkOCs

Best Customer Feedback Message Ever!

March 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Until someone sends us a customer feedback message that better articulates the user experience and provides insight on how to improve that experience then we will own the Best Customer Feedback Message Ever!! Ever!!

Read the customer feedback email below (with our comments in italics) and let us know what you think…

Raise a Ruckus

Image Courtesy of chasingfun by CC (Flickr)

The ability to sign up right from the site was great and convenient. (The customer could have stopped here and made our day!)

However, at the end (when entering initials) things started to feel scary (hmm, not the emotion we hoped to elicit) – is there more to this than just switching – wait what’s the line about a credit check and a possible switching fee (we thought we made it clear that the credit check is standard procedure and there is no switching fee. Why does the customer still think these things. Or maybe it’s not the customer. Maybe it’s us?).

As such I became much more concerned that I was signing up for something that I don’t understand (we thought we made it clear? Why don’t customers understand..What are we not doing?).

If you could bold or find a way to highlight ‘What Changes’ that would be great (Didn’t we include that in the FAQ? Are you saying customers don’t read the FAQ? I really don’t know what more we can do…).

Example (wait. She’s about to provide us a way to solve our user problem?) – show any fees that may be applied for this switch, if the term of the contract is lock-in for a period of time or if I can switch again at anytime (we thought we were answering these questions).

Also, tell me if and when I have the right to change my mind…let’s say I do have a $50 switching fee & they want a deposit (although I don’t have one now) and I want to just back-out to keep ComED, when can I change my mind? (Hmm. Has the customer just told us we’re not delivering on our promise, not being as transparent about the risks and the price as we thought we were, and not making the process as easy as we claimed? Not really. She’s just saying our process could be better).

What about all the great feedback we’ve received so far? This message doesn’t change that. It’s all well deserved. But there’s still more work to do. And that’s all the customer is saying.

So on to doing that work.

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Watchdog releases price comparison of ComEd, other electric suppliers | Utilities | Crain’s Chicago Business

March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Watchdog releases price comparison of ComEd, other electric suppliers | Utilities | Crain’s Chicago Business.

As if we needed more validation that it is OK and authorized to switch your electricity suppliers. Compare on the CUB site, do a deeper dive into the terms of the comparison here https://power2switch.com/Residential.aspx?v=2 and complete the switch for free.

Good point to note in this article is the fact that come summer Comed rates are expected to drop. Still a projection but you can be sure that, to compete, the alternative suppliers (Bluestar, Champion, Constellation, Direct and Spark) will drop prices too and will ensure that do the same for their current customers to keep them. That’s the whole point of competition…

Find full article at the link below


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