Attorney General urges public
utilities to inform customers of expensive price of alternative
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[September 10, 2018]
Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent letters to ComEd and Ameren
urging the public utilities to include electric supply price
comparison information on customers’ monthly utility bills to inform
consumers about the true cost of enrolling with alternative retail
electric suppliers (ARES).
Madigan’s letters urge the utilities to clearly disclose to
customers who have switched to an ARES the price they are paying on
their monthly utility bills as well as the comparison price that
those customers would have paid if they had stayed enrolled in
traditional utility service through ComEd or Ameren. Because ComEd
and Ameren are responsible for billing customers for ARES service,
Madigan said they should clearly inform customers about the real
cost of switching to ARES service.
“People in Illinois who switch to an alternative electric supplier
almost always pay higher prices,” Madigan said. “Providing Illinois
residents who have switched to an ARES with rate comparison
information on their monthly electric bills is an easy way to allow
them to see the price difference and it should prompt them to cancel
expensive contracts with these predatory companies.”
Madigan said consumers find it extremely difficult to determine how
much the traditional utility’s price compares to the prices ARES
charge, particularly when faced with aggressive and fraudulent sales
tactics at their door or over the phone. Compounding the problem,
ARES engage in bait and switch marketing tactics to entice consumers
with low teaser rates that can end up increasing to as high as three
times the traditional utility rate.
There are 103 ARES licensed to sell electricity in Illinois. In the
past four years, consumers who enrolled with ARES service have paid
over $600 million more for electricity than they would have paid
with ComEd or Ameren service. In one year alone, from June 2017 to
May 2018, Illinois consumers paid a total of about $227 million more
with ARES service. Even though over 100,000 consumers dropped their
ARES service last year, the total amount of overcharges continues to
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Last spring, in an effort to protect consumers against ARES’
misleading savings claims and gross overcharges, Madigan and other
advocates urged lawmakers to pass meaningful consumer protection
reforms, including requiring price comparison information on every
customer’s utility bill and in all ARES marketing materials and
solicitations. Madigan said public utilities should adopt Madigan’s
recommendation to inform customers about the total cost of their
electric supply choices.
Madigan has taken legal action against four alternative retail
energy suppliers and is investigating others for aggressive and
deceptive sales tactics that have defrauded Illinois consumers out
of millions of dollars, including a lawsuit earlier this year
against Major Energy LLC. She previously settled with Ethical
Electric Inc. and PALMco Power IL LLC and is in ongoing litigation
with Sperian Energy Corp.
Madigan offered the following advice for Illinois residents who are
solicited by an ARES:
NEVER answer the door to a stranger, especially if they are
trying to get you to switch your utility service.
NEVER show or share your utility bill or account number with
someone who comes to your door or calls you on the phone.
Do not sign anything!
Be wary of any offer that promises or guarantees savings.
No alternative supplier is affiliated with or endorsed by your
utility or the government. If you sign up for service with an
alternative supplier, you are entering a new contract with a
[Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa