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Making A Difference: She said “no one at the utility company was listening”— but CUB did

Danielle Holmes from the Consumer Advocacy Department works on a consumer case.

CUB has helped save Illinois consumers more than $20 billion over the last four decades, but sometimes the most important consumer victory is just listening.

Take Eleanor’s case. For two years, her October and November bills were around $285 and Nicor kept saying that’s what the meter read. They even replaced the meter in 2021—but the high bills persisted.

Getting nowhere with the utility, she contacted CUB. CUB helped get a technician to check out Eleanor’s meter. Eleanor says Nicor found a leak and fixed it–but claimed this didn’t have an impact on her previous bills. The next few months her bill was back to normal (about $135) and Eleanor was grateful.

“No one at the utility company was listening. I’m just happy my bills are lower. THANK YOU CUB!” she wrote in a letter accompanied by a donation.

In 2022 alone, the Consumer Advocacy Department–including Director Sandra Marcelin-Remé, Danielle Holmes and Annie Warnock–handled more than 3,000 consumer inquiries/complaints and saved individual consumers a total of more than $31,600. Since 1984, the group has saved individual consumers more than $1.2 million–in addition to the $20 billion in savings through CUB’s work in cases against utilities before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).

That’s a nice track record, but the team knows consumer advocacy is more than just saving people money. “Cases that result in modest savings or even just peace of mind make up the bulk of what we do here at CUB, but they’re just as important as the very big savings cases,” said Sandra Marcelin-Remé, CUB’s Staff, Operations & Consumer Advocacy Director. “Our job is to help consumers feel heard and arm them with the information they need to face the utilities. Giving someone the knowledge to take on the big utility companies and knowing that someone is advocating on their behalf makes such a difference.”

If you contact your utility and get nowhere, you can call CUB’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556.