Retail Electric Supplier Consumer Protection
In Illinois’ deregulated electric supply market, homes and businesses can purchase electric supply from any vendor of their choice. Ameren Illinois will always continue to deliver that electricity and charge distribution fees. However, the City of Urbana has experienced a change in the nature of complaints the City receives regarding sales tactics used by some door to door salespersons. "For years we received occasional calls about electric supply salespersons stretching the truth and fast talking folks into a supply agreement, but recently the complaints I’ve received describe representations that are not just misleading, but outright lies" said Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager for the City of Urbana.
Tess runs the City’s Municipal Electric Aggregation program where residents are opted into a City organized bulk purchase of electricity supply. Residents can opt out any time and choose another retail electric supplier or utilize Ameren electric supply. While the City’s Aggregation program always buys Green Power and is usually the lowest cost option for residents, sometimes other options offer a lower cost. Retail electric supply prices vary based on market conditions and Ameren electric supply prices are reset annually for both the summer and non-summer rates. Either may offer lower cost for some period of time. Over the history of Urbana’s Municipal Electric Aggregation program, all residents combined have saved a net total of $1.3 million.
Residents calling in complaints regarding the behavior of electric supply salespersons are directed to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s office online at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/filecomplaint.html or by phone at 800-243-0618. The Illinois Attorney General recently filed suit against one retail electric supplier for misleading customers.
The City of Urbana recommends that if residents talk to electric supply salespersons, they should do the following:
- Ask who the salesperson works for. Neither the City of Urbana, nor its Municipal Electric Aggregation partners conduct door-to-door sales in Urbana.
- Ask for some identification to verify that the person represents the electric supplier he/she claims to represent.
- Ask the salesperson for his/her business card.
- Don’t show your power bill to individuals you don’t know. A marketer must ask for written authorization to access your meter usage.
- Carefully scrutinize all statements and documents. Do not rely on just the verbal statements of the salesperson.
- Request all marketing offers in writing and do not enroll on the spot. If the salesperson provides you with marketing information, don’t feel rushed to read the material. Don’t be afraid to tell the salesperson that you will need time to review the material and that, if interested, you will ‘get back to them.’ Also let the sales person know that he/she need not come back and that you will contact them if interested.
- Ask about any fees, charges, and contract term lengths.
- Know your current electric supplier name and price. Most residents are enrolled in the City’s Municipal Electric Aggregation program with supply from Homefield Energy at $0.05757 per kwh.
- Feel empowered to say ‘no thanks’ at any time with the salespersons.
As with any interaction, if you feel unsafe, call the Police.
For more information about the Municipal Electric Aggregation, please visit https://www.urbanaillinois.us/residents/municipal-electric-aggregation.