After more than two decades of consumer advocacy work at CUB, Sarah Moskowitz has been named executive director of the utility watchdog group. Read our Q&A with Sarah.
Q: As you become executive director, what’s your vision for CUB?
A: I want to continue the legacy of fighting for consumers left by our previous leaders–Sue Stewart, Martin Cohen and David Kolata–while tackling all the new challenges utility customers face these days. When I started at CUB, most people still had landline telephones and Ameritech complaints took up most of my time. Now, our top issue is how we move to 100 percent clean energy and at the same time keep utility bills down. The issues may be different, but consumers still need a strong consumer advocate in their corner to hold utilities accountable.
Q: What are your top priorities?
A: My top job will always be to lower utility bills for consumers. In that context, I can see three main priorities:
- Fighting more than $2 billion in gas and electric rate-hike requests.
- Educating consumers on how to spot bill problems and tap into special programs to help them cut costs.
- Helping usher in the clean energy transition in a thoughtful way that keeps utility bills down. We’re seeking the fastest, cheapest way to 100 percent clean energy.
Q: What have you learned over your 23 years at CUB?
A: Back in 2000, my job was to answer complaints from Illinois consumers at wits’ end with their utility companies. It was an eye-opening experience to see how much people suffer as a result of utility greed.
Later, David Kolata promoted me and I spent the next 13 years building a nation-leading Outreach program that staffed 400-500 events a year. During that busy time, I helped lead cutting-edge initiatives that educated consumers on how clean energy can cut utility bills. That included hundreds of Smart Grid educational events; an online energy efficiency tool called CUB Energy Saver; CUB Energy Responder, a demand-response program tailored to curb the energy use of plug-in appliances; and CUB’s solar group-buy programs, which have used volume discounts to help participants install solar panels and cut their power bills.
By the time I became Deputy Director in 2019, I had helped orchestrate hundreds of educational programs and events, and had personally handled thousands of consumer inquiries, showing people how to cut their utility bills by hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.
But no matter what role I played at CUB–from processing consumer complaints and analyzing utility bills to helping pass the historic Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)–it always struck me just how much utility customers depend on us to advocate for them against the big energy companies. It’s a big responsibility.
The Sarah Moskowitz File
Education: Graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2000; later received a Master’s Degree in the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.
History at CUB: 23 years
- 2000-2002: Staffed CUB’s Consumer Hotline, which handles thousands of inquiries a year from sometimes desperate customers with complaints about their utility bills.
- 2002-2006: Performed part-time administrative work, while earning her graduate degree.
- 2006-2019: Built CUB’s Outreach program into a national leader in consumer education that staffed 400 to 500 free events a year across the state of Illinois.
- 2019-2023: Served as Deputy Director, where she played a pivotal part in CUB’s state and national policy work.
- 2023: Appointed CUB’s fourth executive director, after David Kolata, Martin Cohen and Sue Stewart.
Hobbies/Interests: Enjoys keeping tabs on the urban wildlife in her neighborhood, taking care of her cat, Tom, volunteer DJing at her local community radio station and reading history.
Quote: “I am honored and excited to carry on CUB’s legacy and lead the important consumer advocacy work for utility customers in Illinois. I am grateful to my CUB colleagues and the thousands of utility customers I’ve worked with over the years—they made me a better consumer advocate and have prepared me to lead CUB at this key moment. As we challenge unprecedented rate hikes and help usher in the clean energy future, Illinois consumers need a tough consumer advocate in their corner. Our team is up to this historic task.”