CUB’s team helped save Illinois consumers more than $125 million in 2018, adding to the $20 billion in savings since the consumer watchdog opened its doors 35 years ago.
“We thank Illinois consumers for their generous support,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “CUB members are the heroes in this story—together we achieved a lot this year.”
|Legal: CUB’s legal team helped reduce Nicor Gas’ proposed rate hike by $115 million, and it worked with other consumer advocates to help secure a settlement for an Ameren gas rate cut of about $10 million, approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission in October. The team also worked to make sure the big utilities cut rates by a total of $350 million in connection with a federal corporate tax cut approved by Congress last year.|
|Consumer advocacy: CUB’s consumer advocacy team fielded thousands of inquiries/complaints and saved individuals more than $108,000 by spotting billing errors and rip-offs and advocating for consumers. Charlene received guidance from CUB as she worked to get a $495 refund from ComEd, and her experience was so positive that she now tells her friends: “If anyone needs help, let me know…I have CUB’s number.”|
|Outreach: CUB’s outreach team staffed over 500 events in 2018—meaning on average not a day goes by where CUB isn’t somewhere in Illinois helping people cut their utility bills. This year, the team showed individual Illinoisans how to save more than $144,000, by spotting alternative supplier rip-offs on bills, connecting people with money-saving energy efficiency programs, and handing out energy efficient light bulbs. “You guys are awesome,” said Moira, after she brought her complaint about a wireless carrier to a CUB utility-bill clinic and later received a $797 credit.|
|“Listen, Lead, Share”: Launched by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, of which CUB is a member, the “Listen, Lead, Share” campaign consisted of a series of community discussions across Illinois. CUB has participated in about 20 of these conversations to hear what Illinoisans had to say about making clean energy affordable and accessible to everyone in the state. Environment Outreach Coordinator Scott Allen said he focused less on talking and more on listening at these events: “It’s key that people from every corner of Illinois come together to talk about the economic advantages of affordable, clean energy and how we achieve that for everyone.”|
|Research: CUB published its first-ever digital Gas and Electric Guide, the only publication in the state that lays out a person’s rights as a utility customer in a clear, consumer-friendly manner. Also, CUB Executive Director David Kolata and Research Director Jeff Zethmayr wrote an academic paper that found electric vehicle owners could save with a ComEd pricing plan called Hourly Pricing. According to CUB’s analysis of 2016 and 2017 pricing data, EV drivers using Hourly Pricing would have saved 52-59 percent over the utility’s traditional electricity rates, equaling as much as $389 in savings over the two-year study period.|
Thank you to all the Illinois consumers who support this important work. In 2019, we celebrate our 35th anniversary. We’ll need you to fight many tough consumer battles, including:
- ComEd customers and others across the region could see their bills rise by up to $8 billion a year if giant out-of-state electricity generators, like Vistra, NRG, FirstEnergy and Calpine, succeed in convincing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to change electricity market rules.
- Only months after receiving a $93.5 million rate hike, Nicor Gas is back at the table asking state regulators for a new $230 million increase–the largest request for a gas hike that CUB has ever seen.
- The cost of Peoples Gas’ mismanaged pipe-replacement program, funded by customers, could balloon to $11 billion and spark a heating-affordability crisis.
- People are constantly having frustrating run-ins with the big utilities. Our dedicated consumer advocacy team will talk to thousands of Illinois utility customers to help them resolve disputes, and even get refunds if warranted.
- Consumers across Illinois are being victimized by alternative suppliers peddling electric and gas rip-offs—in recent years people have overpaid by $551 million! Our outreach team aims to staff 500 events in 2019 to warn people about bad deals and alert them to money-saving efficiency programs.
- Ameren and ComEd could ask for rate hikes in 2019. We’ll fight every penny the companies can’t justify.
- AT&T wants to end traditional phone service for Illinois’ most vulnerable customers, and it’s constantly trying to erode Internet consumer protections.