Citizens Utility Board Warns of Rip-Offs By Alternative Electricity Suppliers

Officials at the Citizens Utility Board Thursday February 16, 2016 warned residents in Arlington Heights and neighboring northwest suburbs to beware of potentially bad deals pitched by electric aggregation companies taking advantage of residents in suburbs that are ending their community power deals. “People should know that it’s likely that ComEd is your best bet in the current market,” said Jim Chilsen, CUB Communications Director.

CUB has released a new publication, “CUB’s Guide to Avoiding Electric Rip-offs,” to help consumers in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Palatine, Vernon Hills, and Wheeling.

The communities are part of the Northwest Aggregation Consortium, which is suspending its program and sending member customers back to ComEd in May 2016. Customers will automatically resume as ComEd customers; no action is required.

“It’s important for consumers to have good information to protect themselves from bad deals, and that’s why CUB created our ‘Guide to Avoiding Electric Rip-offs,'”

— CUB Communications Director Jim Chilsen

A CUB guide includes tips on “avoiding rip-offs” and includes a list of alternative supplier offers, including how they compare with the electricity price of the regulated utility, ComEd, officials said. People can get the free guide emailed to them by visiting www.CUBHelpCenter.com.

CUB Alert

Beware of monthly fees and exorbitant rates

Beware of early termination penalties

Refrain from giving ComEd account numbers or ComEd bills to alternative supplier sales reps, unless absolutely of sign up with the alternative supplier

Northwest Aggregation Consortium group, like other similar groups in the Chicago area, was created to find cheaper electricity rates for residents than ComEd rates.

The Northwest Aggregation Consortium decided to suspend the program in 2017 because ComEd offered the lowest available fixed rates among all of the group’s bidders. In the current market, it has become more difficult for suppliers to offer savings, compared with the electricity price of ComEd.

With the termination of the community power deals in the seven suburbs, CUB is concerned that residents could be inundated with pitches from alternative suppliers peddling bad deals.

“It’s important for consumers to have good information to protect themselves from bad deals, and that’s why CUB created our ‘Guide to Avoiding Electric Rip-offs,’” CUB Communications Director Jim Chilsen said. “People should know that it’s likely that ComEd is your best bet in the current market.”

Other important information:

• Residents of the seven communities will receive a letter informing them of the change in April. They don’t have to do anything to switch back to ComEd. The change will be automatic, and it will be reflected on June bills.

• If people want to shop for an electricity supplier, they should beware of exorbitant rates, introductory rates that increase, and monthly fees.

• Residents also are advised not to provide ComEd account numbers or ComEd bills to alternative supplier sales representatives unless they are absolutely sure they want to sign up for another offer.

CUB is Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog.

Since 1984, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Citizens Utility Board or CUB challenges utility rate increases, fights for rate reductions and refunds of overcharges, and appeals unfair regulatory decisions in the courts. CUB also promotes tougher consumer protection laws in the state legislature, where rules governing the utilities are written, and publishes consumer, education materials. CUB also is working to ensure that the introduction of competition into the utility industry will provide real benefits for real people, and not just added headaches and hassles.

Illinois Statute from the Illinois General Assembly directs CUB to look out for residents by intervening in ratemaking proceedings before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), in the courts and before other public bodies and by providing consumers with information and assistance regarding their utility companies.

CUB operates a Consumer Hotline (1-800-669-5556) that provides assistance to individual consumers who have complaints against their utility companies. The Hotline fields more than 6,000 calls a year.