Statement By CUB Executive Director David Kolata On ICC Passage Of New Consumer Protections For Electric Customers

Contact:
Jim Chilsen, chilsen@citizensutilityboard.org, (312) 513-1784

CHICAGO, June 5, 2017—CUB commends the Illinois Commerce Comission (ICC), led by Chairman Brien Sheahan, for advancing these new rules, because we believe a healthy competitive electric market always makes consumer protections a priority. These are reasonable, common-sense rules that will help Illinois electricity shoppers get clear information about their choices to help them avoid bad deals. The rules now go before a committee of the Illinois General Assembly. We urge legislators to support these rules in full.

Background:

*Customers in Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois territory can choose a company other than the regulated utility to supply them with electricity. On Thursday, June 1, the ICC voted unanimously to require alternative electricity suppliers to operate under stronger marketing rules.

*In the summer of 2014, CUB and the City of Chicago requested an investigation of Illinois’ electricity market, prompted by reports of confusing and/or misleading offers and high prices. After a series of workshops, the ICC started a rulemaking proceeding in September of 2015 (Docket No. 15-0512), with the goal of increasing consumer protections for electricity shoppers.

*Some of the reforms the ICC approved:

-Prohibits alternative suppliers from using a utility’s name and logo to market its products.

-Requires suppliers to provide 12 months of pricing history for a variable offer.

-Requires suppliers to send a separate written notice to customers when a variable rate will increase by 20 percent or more.

-Requires suppliers to give notice in writing and by telephone that a contract will be renewed.

-Limits door-to-door marketing to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or dusk (whichever is earlier).

-Requires background checks be conducted on all sales agents.

-Requires a third party verification of any sales call.

* Thursday’s ICC vote on the new rules was the “Second Notice Order.” The rule now goes to the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bipartisan legislative committee that has ultimate authority on whether and how the final rule is approved. CUB hopes the new rules are quickly approved, so they can be implemented next year.

Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, the nonprofit utility watchdog group has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more details, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1-800-669-5556, or visit CUB’s award-winning website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.