When the Illinois General Assembly created CUB in 1983, it gave the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization a clear mission: to represent the interests of residential utility customers across the state. Since its inception in 1984, CUB has been doing just that—working for lower rates and better service from the state’s investor-owned electric, gas and telecom companies. CUB has saved consumers more than $20 billion by blocking rate hikes and winning consumer refunds.
CUB challenges utility rate increases, appeals unfair regulatory decisions in the courts and fights for rate reductions and refunds. CUB also promotes tougher consumer protection laws in the state legislature, publishes consumer-friendly information and holds hundreds of educational events each year. The watchdog operates a consumer hotline (1-800-669-5556) that provides assistance to consumers who have encountered issues with their utilities.
The Illinois General Assembly created the Citizens Utility Board in 1983 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers throughout the Land of Lincoln. The legislature created CUB as a membership-based organization. An initial $100,000 loan of “seed money” provided by the state was repaid by CUB on time and with interest.
CUB has two arms:
- The Citizens Utility Board (CUB), was established as a 501(c)(4) organization. Because CUB works for legislation that benefits ratepayers, contributions to this arm are not tax deductible.
- CUB’s Consumer Education and Research Fund – or CUB CERF, was established as a 501 (c)(3) organization to help educate consumers on energy efficiency, clean energy and lowering utility bills. Contributions to this arm, including most digital donations, are tax-deductible.
CUB obtains its funding from:
- Grassroots donations: CUB is funded by Illinois consumers through donations of as little as $10 a year. Watch our Power of CUB Celebration, a special celebration of our history, our mission and our supporters.
- Grants: CUB regularly applies for grants to continue its consumer education and clean energy work. Our funders have included the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Energy Foundation and Energy Innovation.
- Utility bill inserts: CUB is permitted by state law to include membership inserts in mass mailings from state agencies. CUB pays for the printing of the inserts and for any additional costs incurred by the agencies when they mail the flyers. The content of the inserts must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission.
Since CUB opened its doors, the watchdog has saved Illinois consumers more than $20 billion by fighting proposed electricity, natural gas and telephone rate hikes. In fact, for every dollar CUB has raised during that time, it has yielded roughly $300 in savings—a dramatic return on investment that represents one more reason why the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised CUB as the “gold standard” of consumer advocates.
CUB’s outreach and consumer advocacy departments work one-on-one with Illinois consumers, and have handled thousands of customer complaints and staffing thousands of events across the state. Consumers often reach out for help with alternative supplier rip-offs, utility billing issues and financial assistance. Over CUB’s history, the Consumer Advocacy Department has handled more than 200,000 inquiries and saved consumers more than $1.2 million. CUB’s outreach team runs statewide education campaigns on utility bills, cable issues, water privatization and affordable clean energy legislation.
Our legal team juggles multiple rate cases each year, often beating back increases by millions of dollars. We secured over $1 billion in refunds for Ameren and ComEd customers after an anti-consumer power auction was abolished in 2007. In 2022 alone, CUB’s legal team saved consumers $522.8 million by blocking utility rate hikes and securing refunds.
In Springfield, CUB’s legislative team has worked for energy legislation that protects the environment and consumers’ wallets. In 1997, we helped secure $6 billion in rate cuts through the electric restructuring law, and a decade later CUB successfully pushed for legislation that created Illinois’ Renewable and Energy Efficiency portfolio standards. In recent years, we’ve helped pass landmark legislation, including the Future Energy Jobs Act (2016) and the 2021 Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), making Illinois a national leader in consumer-friendly climate legislation. Watch our CEJA video series on Youtube to learn more.
CUB also blocks legislation that would be bad for consumers. Fending off the attempted ComEd/Illinois Power merger in 2003 saved consumers an estimated $2 billion. We saved consumers another $3 billion by blocking an Illinois Power rate deal in 1988.