CHICAGO, April 5, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Spurred by unprecedented financial losses among electric customers across Illinois, AARP Illinois and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) are asking the General Assembly to pass sweeping reforms to curb abuses by unregulated gas and electric suppliers that peddle offers door-to-door, over the phone or via mail.
At CUBActionCenter.com Illinoisans can email legislators and urge them to clean up the energy markets.
ComEd and Ameren Illinois customers can choose a company other than the regulated utility to supply their electricity, and people in Northern Illinois also can choose unregulated natural gas suppliers.
Consumers often complain about confusing offers, misleading marketing, and rip-offs that are double or triple the supply rate offered by the regulated utility. In fact, customers of alternative electric suppliers lost a record total of $197.8 million from June 2016 through May 2017, according to a report by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Office of Retail Market Development.
Consumer advocates said reforms are needed to stop a wave of electric and gas rip-offs. They called for a ban on automatic renewal of contracts, for a mandate that electricity prices be clearly and prominently displayed on power bills, and for a new law that would forbid suppliers from hiding their charges on utility bills.
Currently, alternative suppliers are allowed to include their charges on utility bills. But that makes it difficult for customers to spot bad deals. House Bill 5101, sponsored by Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr. of Chicago, would require suppliers to send their own bills to customers if they market door-to-door, via mail, or over the phone.
“I am serious about protecting Illinois consumers and keeping utility costs down for the working-class citizens of Illinois,” Rep. Evans said. “Utility services such as electric and gas are essential means of living. Access to fair-priced utilities is not a privilege, but is a right and needs to be protected.”
“Consumers across Illinois are getting ripped off by alternative electric and gas suppliers who can hide behind major utility companies,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois State Director. “It’s time to bring some transparency to the process and give consumers the chance to make reliable, transparent, informed decisions about their utility services. Illinois consumers deserve better.”
“These common-sense reforms are urgently needed because they will protect customers from bad deals and make the market stronger,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at http://states.aarp.org/region/illinois/.
CUB, Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog organization, has helped save consumers more than $20 billion. For more information, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.
SOURCE Citizens Utility Board
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