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What is ComEd Hourly Pricing?

by | March 27, 2024

Illinois’s largest electricity utility, ComEd, has two main rate plans for homeowners:

  • Rate BES – Basic Electric Service, which offers a fixed rate 24/7 (with some seasonal adjustments). Most customers are on this plan.
  • Rate BESH – Basic Electric Service Hourly Pricing, where the rate varies hourly based on the price of electricity in the wholesale market where ComEd buys energy.

ComEd’s Hourly Pricing option incentivizes you to use energy when it is cheapest. It also helps the environment, because the dirtiest power plants only get used when wholesale electricity pricing is highest.

However, understanding exactly how Hourly Pricing works and whether it would be beneficial to you can be a little confusing. So here’s an overview:

Typical Price Fluctuations with ComEd Hourly Pricing

Hourly prices follow relatively predictable patterns throughout the day and throughout the year. Prices are generally lowest overnight (especially from midnight to six a.m.), and highest during hot summer afternoons.

The ComEd graph below depicts typical pricing patterns with Hourly Pricing:

ComEd Hourly Pricing Illustrative Graph

Here are the actual prices for an entire day earlier this March:

ComEd Hourly Pricing March 21 2024

For the entire day, the price of electricity supply is lower than the fixed-rate price, which is 6.85 cents per kWh.

However, every once in a while the hourly rates are higher than the fixed-rate price, especially when it is very cold or very hot outside. Here’s an example from a hot day last summer:

ComEd Hourly Prcing August 8 2023

Can I Save Money on Hourly Pricing?

The patterns I describe above are pretty consistent, so if you can do two things you will almost certainly save money on hourly pricing:

  • When reasonably possible, defer energy use to night.
  • Be vigilant about avoiding energy use during a handful of hours per year when wholesale energy prices are highest.

According to ComEd, Hourly Pricing participants “have saved an average of 15% on their energy supply costs compared to ComEd’s default fixed-price rate.”

Hourly pricing should work well for customers who:

  • Have an EV and set it up to charge at night (we can help with a charger)
  • Have solar (we can help with that, too)
  • Don’t mind keeping track of prices and modifying their usage accordingly
  • Are willing to change when they use major appliances
  • Have an empty house for some or most of the day

For example, suppose you have an electric vehicle with a 75kWh battery. You set it to charge only from 10pm to 5am, when electricity supply averages only 3 cents per kWh and the total cost to you is 13.5 cents per kWh (with delivery fees and taxes). The total cost to charge your car would be around $10. If you were on fixed-rate pricing with supply at around 6.8 cents, you’d pay around 16 cents per kWh all-in, or around $12 total. On Hourly Pricing, you’d pay $2 less for every recharge.

Similarly, you could set a delay on your dishwasher so that it starts running at midnight instead of 7pm, or put your clothes in the dryer before bed instead of during the day.

Who Should Avoid Hourly Pricing?

If you are home all day, want to use large electric appliances without thinking about cost, don’t have an EV, or just don’t want to think about tracking your energy usage, hourly pricing probably isn’t right for you.

Some people may also be concerned that hourly prices could spike dramatically and cause them to have extremely or unexpectedly high electricity bills. If this is you, don’t worry — just stay on the fixed-price plan.

Understanding Your ComEd Bill with Hourly Pricing

If you enroll in Hourly Pricing, your ComEd bill will look a little bit different. There are some charges that only appear as line items for Rate BESH, and some that are just calculated a little bit differently.

ComEd Hourly Pricing Illustrative Bill
  1. Electricity Supply Charge: This is the sum of all electricity purchased during that billing period multiplied by the hourly price at that time. ComEd doesn’t show an hourly rate like they do when you are on Rate BES because the rate is different for every hour in the month.
  2. Capacity Charge: The capacity charge is calculated based on your peak loads on the five hottest days of the year, which are averaged and multiplied by a fixed price. You’ll see that same price every month, and it will be re-calculated each year in June based on the previous summer’s usage. A typical capacity charge can be somewhere between a few cents and a few dollars, and can be reduced by limiting usage on those peak summer days. If you’d like to know what your capacity charge will be on Hourly Pricing, you can calculate your own capacity charge using this tool from Citizen’s Utility Board.
  1. Procurement Component: This charge applies to rate BESH only and is associated with the cost of procuring electricity from PJM-administered markets.

Setting Yourself Up for Success 

If you’re interested in trying out Hourly Pricing, ComEd has a number of tools available to help make smart decisions on when to use energy.

Before switching to Hourly Pricing, check out the rate plan analysis tool to see whether ComEd thinks you could save money with BESH based on your usage history.

Once you make the switch, ComEd has some tools and tips on their website to help manage your electricity use. Their mobile app will show you live prices and alert in advance about when electricity will be most expensive. You can also look at historical predictions and see how closely they corresponded with actual hourly prices.

There are also automation tools available, like the IFTTT App, which can connect with your smart appliances to automatically adjust their settings or turn them off when prices are high. That way you can optimize your Hourly Pricing savings without even having to think about it too much.

How to Switch 

The easiest way to enroll in Hourly Pricing is on ComEd’s website.

And if you find out Hourly Pricing isn’t for you? You can easily switch back to fixed-rate pricing at any time (although you’ll have to wait 12 months before re-enrolling in Hourly Pricing).

This post was written by Marni Berliner.
Marni is Certasun's Director of Sales.

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