CUB issues consumer alert as Chicago energy deal fades

SHARE CUB issues consumer alert as Chicago energy deal fades

The Citizens Utility Board on Wednesday issued a consumer alert warning Chicagoans to avoid bad electric deals when the city’s energy aggregation deal ends in July.

More than 600,000 households will be automatically returned to ComEd in August after the city’s two-year municipal aggregation program ends with Integrys Energy Services.

The switch comes as thousands of low-income residents scramble to find help as the budget impasse continues in Springfield.

That means Chicagoans will be getting some major marketing pitches, and in some cases, bad deals from alternative electric suppliers, according Jim Chilsen, spokesman for the utility watchdog group.

“Chicago residents should be on high alert. The big switch could spark an advertising blitz from alternative suppliers who are eager to gain consumers,” Chilsen said. “CUB worries that Chicagoans will be subjected to misleading marketing or high pressure sales tactics from unethical door-to-door salesmen and telemarketers.”

An Illinois Commerce Commission report in June indicated that ComEd is likely to be the best deal in the current market and found that ComEd customers saved $73.4 million more than those who signed up with an alternative electric supplier.

Chilsen also announced a consumer calculator at which can help Illinois residents find out how much they’d pay with an alternative electric supplier versus ComEd or Ameren.

Consumers can input the price per kilowatt per hour, the supplier’s monthly fee and an estimated monthly power usage. Then it will compare it to ComEd.

ComEd’s CARE program, administered by social agencies like CEDA, has been shut down due to the state’s budget stalemate. To try to help, ComEd is opening 11 temporary satellite sites and is hosting two energy fairs in the coming weeks to help customers get access to ComEd’s financial assistance funds. The company hired 24 former employees of social service agencies to help process the financial aid applications.

The satellite locations opened Monday and are running until CARE funds run out. ComEd has $10 million to help low-income customers. The satellite offices include seven Chicago churches and community centers, and offices in South Holland, Waukegan, Aurora and DeKalb.

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