It’s been a historic year so far, with Illinois utilities pushing for a record $2.9 billion in higher rates and a major transition at the Citizens Utility Board (CUB).
Check out my mid-year report–and please consider a small contribution to support the work for clean, affordable energy.
- Major change at CUB.
- We’re fighting to reduce utility rate hikes by at least $1.6 billion.
- We’ve staffed about 185 free events to help people cut their utility bills.
- We’ve handled about 1,000 inquiries from consumers.
- We have helped launch cutting-edge programs to help Illinois consumers use solar power and geothermal energy to cut their energy costs.
After 18 years leading CUB, David Kolata stepped down as executive director to work in the climate tech industry. We wish our good friend well on his next chapter of working for clean, affordable energy!
I’ve put in a lot of miles at CUB too–I can’t even count how many utility bills I’ve analyzed over the last 23 years–and I’m excited to lead the organization into a new era.
Thankfully, I have a great staff and great Illinois consumers (like you) on our side. (Read my Q&A.)
CUB superstars Eric (General Counsel) and Laura (Regulatory Counsel) are battling a whopping six utility rate hikes at the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) -–all at the same time. (Don’t ask me how they do it!)
- ComEd: $1.5 billion over four years
- Ameren Illinois (electric): $481 million over four years
- Peoples Gas: $402 million a year
- Nicor Gas: $320 million a year
- Ameren Illinois (gas): $148 a year
- North Shore Gas: $17 million a year
Total: $2.9 billion
- CUB has staffed about 185 free events so far this year, and handled just over 1,000 inquiries from individual utility customers who reached out by phone (1-800-669-5556) or online for help resolving a telecom, gas or electric problem.
- Here are some of the people CUB has helped so far this year:
Wanda B. of Chicago saved $2,050 from ComEd
William of Barrington saved $1,857 from Illinois Gas and Electric
Joseph of Mount Prospect saved $532 from Ambit Energy
Jesus D. of Aurora saved $442 from Nicor Gas
Michelle R. of Aurora saved $330 from ComEd
Frank B. of Chicago saved $145 from AT&T
Felicia B. of Chicago saved $113 from Peoples Gas
Jesus-Ivan of North Chicago saved $100 from Smart Energy
CUB’s 2023 Legislative Campaign
Bryan, our guy in Springfield, pushed a lot of creative bills to protect utility customers. As Bryan said: I’m glad we started the conversation on a number of strong proposals, including legislation that would cap the utilities’ profit rate for shareholders; end the punishing “Qualified Infrastructure Plant” surcharge on gas and water bills; and bring back the low-cost AT&T Consumer’s Choice plans.
While we fight record rate hikes, we also have our hands full with other consumer issues. Here are some examples:
Clean, Affordable Energy Projects: CUB isn’t just about exposing problems–we’re also seeking solutions to secure clean, affordable energy for Illinois consumers. Read about the solar and geothermal projects we’re working on.
The Clean Energy Transition. There are major changes afoot in the energy industry and it is vital that consumer advocates like CUB are leading the charge to make sure consumers and our energy bills are protected. Read my recent op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Building electrification. We’ve just emerged from a two-year natural gas price spike, and Illinois gas utilities are asking for nearly $1 billion in rate hikes on the delivery side of bills. Natural gas is only going to become more volatile and more expensive in years to come–we need a strong, long-term transition plan, and we need to start developing it now. Read all about it in our Better Heat guide.
Alternative Supplier Rip-offs. I hope you noticed that electricity supply prices for ComEd and Ameren have plunged from last year. Unfortunately, we’ve seen consumers paying alternative supplier prices that are still elevated. In this market, it’s likely that the utility is your best bet for power supply. Be careful of bad deals out there–read our WatchBlog article.
Water woes: Water privatization is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in Illinois, as private companies Illinois American and Aqua blow through hundreds of millions of dollars of their customers’ money to buy up water systems in cities and towns across Illinois. It eventually leads to higher bills for consumers, and recent examples of bad service in University Park and Lake County show that privatization is not the answer to our clean water needs in the United States. All we’re asking for is democracy–the ability for local water customers to approve the privatization of their municipal water/wastewater systems. Read more about the issue here.
We’ve got a lot to do, but I’m glad we’ve got you on our side. Throughout the year, we’ll ask you to take action on important issues. We appreciate your interest and activism! Please reach out to us if you ever have a question, concern or complaint about your utility service. And if you have room in your budget, please consider supporting CUB’s work for clean, affordable energy.