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CUB featured on CBS 2

CUB’s Jim Chilsen warns consumers about bad deals peddled by alternative electricity suppliers. Click on the photo to watch the report.

CUB was featured on Chicago’s CBS 2 last night warning consumers in ComEd territory that they could see a marketing barrage from alternative electricity suppliers over the next year.

The consumer watchdog told reporter Dorothy Tucker that more than 100 communities have contracts with alternative electricity suppliers expiring over the next six months. If those communities don’t renew their contracts, the power deals will come to an end and residents will be sent back to the regulated utility, ComEd.

CUB’s concern is that those communities could be targeted by other alternative suppliers pitching bad deals.

Under state law, elected officials that pass a referendum are allowed to negotiate electricity offers with alternative suppliers for residents in their communities. Hundreds of communities have taken part in “municipal aggregation,” but in the current market, many are expected to go back to ComEd, because the regulated utility likely has the lowest power price.

Recently, CUB issued a consumer alert after seven suburbs announced that they were sending their residents back to ComEd. To get CUB’s new “Guide to Avoiding Electric Rip-offs,” visit www.CUBHelpCenter.com

If you get pitched an offer from an alternative electricity supplier, watch for these red flags:

Pushy sales tactics. (Don’t give out your account number or electric bill unless you’re absolutely sure you want to change suppliers. A dishonest sales rep can use your account number to sign you up for an offer without your permission.)

Exorbitant rates (ComEd’s rate is likely your best bet in this market: 6.318 cents per kilowatt-hour.)

Promotional rates that disappear. Always ask if the rate you’re pitched is a promo rate, when it ends, and what the new rate will be.

Monthly fees. A monthly fee can make a seemingly good deal very expensive.

Exit fees. Does the offer charge you a fee if you want to get out of it? Remember, exit fees are capped at $50 and you don’t have to pay one if you exit an offer within 10 days of receiving the first bill.