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CUB Q&A on the Realgy Settlement

A sample of the letter that went to Illinois consumers who received refunds as part of a settlement with an alternative supplier called Realgy that had been accused of violating state rules and laws in connection with a high “RTS” fee it charged in 2021.

Former customers of alternative electric and gas supplier Realgy, LLC, have called CUB with questions about a check they were mailed. An accompanying message explains that the check is related to a settlement the staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and CUB reached with the supplier. The check is legitimate. 

This Q&A gives details on the settlement. 

Why did I receive a check?
You are a former customer of Realgy, and this is a refund you are entitled to receive under a legal settlement that was recently approved by the ICC, the state body that enforces sales and marketing rules alternative electric and gas suppliers are required to follow in Illinois.

What is the legal settlement about?
In April of 2021, the ICC launched an investigation of Realgy (Docket No. 21-0364) for charging an extremely high fee, called the “Real Time Settlement,” or “RTS.” The supplier claimed the fee was related to the bitter cold that descended on the southern United States, including Texas, in February of that year, and the resulting price spikes in the energy market. (CUB received reports of extremely high charges on Realgy bills: One commercial customer reported a $19,867 RTS charge, and an Evanston consumer saw his Realgy bill jump by more than $2,000 from January to February of 2021.) 

In March of 2022, nearly a year after the probe started, the staff of the ICC alleged that the company was not allowed to charge such a fee under the terms and conditions of its contract with customers, and that the supplier had violated marketing and sales rules and laws.  

Eventually, the parties agreed to a settlement that was approved by the ICC on Nov. 16, 2023. Realgy did not admit fault as part of that settlement.  

What are the terms of the settlement?
Under the settlement, Realgy…

  • Surrendered its certificates to do business in Illinois as an alternative gas and electric supplier for residential and small commercial customers. (It can continue to serve large commercial customers.)
  • Agreed, without charging any fees, to allow all its Illinois residential and small business customers to go back to the utility for supply service or, if they wished, to another supplier. 
  • Paid out $1,037,608 million. $150,000 of that is for the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s energy-assistance fund for lower-income customers. The rest, $887,608, is devoted to refunding Realgy residential and small commercial customers who were assessed the RTS fee. 

Is there a deadline to use the check?
Yes. The letter that went out to customers says any check not cashed or deposited will be void after 180 days (roughly six months) after the date on the check. CUB recommends you act promptly to cash or deposit the check. 

If you miss the 180-day deadline there are other opportunities to secure the refund. 

  • Within 30 days after the void date, Realgy is required to send a replacement check that is valid for 90 days. 
  • Also, during this refund period, if an eligible customer contacts Realgy for a replacement check, and they have not already cashed or deposited a check, the company is required to provide a refund check. 
  • If Realgy receives updated mailing address information for an eligible customer, and the customer has not cashed or deposited a check, Realgy will reissue the customer refund to the correct address.
  • Eventually, any leftover refunds that did not go to customers will go to the State of Illinois Unclaimed Funds repository. Realgy will be required to provide the ICC with a report listing the names, last known address and refund check amount of all eligible customers whose refund amount was sent to Unclaimed Funds because their checks were not cashed.  If this happens, people eligible for a Realgy refund can still claim it at this website. 

What if the check is made out to a loved one who is deceased?
If the check is made out to a loved one who is deceased, CUB recommends you reach out to the executor of the deceased person’s estate. The executor should have an estate account for this purpose. If not, the check might need to be reissued, with the executor reaching out to the bank that issued the check. 

How was my refund determined?
CUB has heard from consumers with refunds ranging from roughly $25 to $200. Here’s how refunds were calculated, according to the settlement.

  • The refund total ($887,608) was equally split between electric and gas customers: $443,804 each.
  • Realgy calculated the total cumulative kilowatt-hours and therms of supply service that flowed to customers during the period that they were assessed the RTS fees:

    • For Realgy electric customers: 12,746,421 kilowatt-hours (kWh) 
    • For Realgy gas customers: 544,809.77 therms
  • The $443,804 devoted to Realgy electric customers was divided by the total cumulative kilowatt-hours to determine a per kWh refund rate. Likewise, the $443,804 devoted to Realgy gas customers was divided by the total cumulative therms to determine a per therm refund rate. 
  • That per kWh rate was then multiplied by the number of kWh of electricity you used during the period in which Realgy charged the RTS to come up with your refund. Similarly, if you were a gas customer of Realgy, then the per therm rate was multiplied by the number of therms of gas you used to come up with your refund.

Did CUB get any money out of this settlement?
No. According to the settlement: “Each party shall bear its own fees and costs incurred as part of this matter…”

Who do I call if I have more questions about the settlement?
You can reach out to Realgy (1-877-300-6747) or the ICC (1-800-524-0795).