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ICC approves new rules to protect electric shoppers

CUB commended the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), led by Chairman Brien Sheahan, for advancing new rules designed to help electric customers avoid bad deals from alternative electric suppliers.

“We believe a healthy competitive electric market always makes consumer protections a priority,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said in a statement. “These are reasonable, common-sense rules that will help Illinois electricity shoppers get clear information about their choices to help them avoid bad deals.

*Some of the reforms the ICC approved:

-Prohibits alternative suppliers from using a utility’s name and logo to market its products.

-Requires suppliers to provide 12 months of pricing history for a variable offer.

-Requires suppliers to send a separate written notice to customers when a variable rate will increase by 20 percent or more.

-Requires suppliers to give notice in writing and by telephone that a contract will be renewed.

-Limits door-to-door marketing to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. or dusk (whichever is earlier).

-Requires background checks be conducted on all sales agents.

-Requires a third party verification of any sales call.

The rules now go before the Illinois General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), a bipartisan committee that has ultimate authority on whether and how the final rule is approved. CUB hopes the new rules are quickly approved, so they can be implemented next year.

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that alternative suppliers may launch a lobbying campaign this summer to get legislators to weaken the rules.