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Big Mistake: Spark Energy sends erroneous letters to suburban consumers

20150709_Spark_fbCUB wants to set the record straight about erroneous information Spark Energy has mailed to some Chicago-area residents.

The Journal & Topics Newspapers reported that Buffalo Grove put out a news release about the alternative electricity supplier’s “false aggregation notice.” And Arlington Heights resident and CUB Litigation Director Julie Soderna said she too received the Spark letter. (See a copy here.)

For it’s part, Spark told The Daily Herald of Arlington Heights that the letters were meant for Chicago, not the suburban homes that received them. Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire, Long Grove, Vernon Hills, Wheeling and Palatine are part of a consortium that has negotiated power deals for its residents with Constellation Energy.

Here’s what’s wrong with the letter:

1) Spark writes: “Aggregation is ending and, once again, YOU have the power to choose! Beginning with your August 2015 meter reading, you will automatically be switched back to ComEd unless you make the switch to Spark Energy today.”


All of the electricity deals negotiated by the consortium end in May of 2017—NOT this August.

2) Spark says ComEd’s supply price is 7.54 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).


ComEd’s price is 7.033 cents per kWh through September. The utility’s non-summer price (October through May) is not finalized, but it’s estimated to be roughly 7.17 cents per kWh.

3) The Spark letters we’ve seen pitch an offer of about 6.79 cents per kWh.


There’s no mention of the rates that the suburban communities negotiated with Constellation. Those rates are lower than the price Spark quotes in the letter. And, you have to dive into the letter’s fine print to discover that Spark charges a $4.95 monthly fee!

Compare that with the prices negotiated by the seven-community consortium through May 2017, according to the state’s PlugInIllinois.org electricity choice website:

Arlington Heights, Vernon Hills, Wheeling and Palatine: 6.621 cents per kWh.

Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Long Grove: 6.529 cents per kWh.

Even if the letters were meant for Chicago, they still get ComEd’s rate wrong, and they still make you dig through the fine print to find that monthly fee. Not good.

CUB hears that Spark promises to mail out a retraction of the letter, and it will rescind any enrollments that were originated by the mailing. That’s good! In the meantime, please sign CUB’s petition asking the Illinois Commerce Commission to crack down on confusing and misleading marketing.