Getting your electricity from an alternative supplier may not be a better deal than what Ameren and ComEd can offer. A new report from the Citizens Utility Board says there’s a spike in complaints regarding alternative suppliers, ranging from high-pressure sales tactics to sudden price increases to demanding large exit fees to get out of contracts. CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen says consumers need to know what they’re signing up for before they switch.
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“We are now living in a buyer-beware electricity market,” Chilsen said. “Many unregulated electricity suppliers are acting appropriately. You still can find savings in Illinois’ electricity market, but it is much easier to get ripped off.” Chilsen says rates that can vary month to month are one red flag. During the harsh winter, some customers were paying six times more than those who were still getting their electricity supplied by ComEd or Ameren.
Cities and counties that negotiate with alternative suppliers on behalf of residents have generally offered savings over traditional suppliers, but Chilsen says the same factors that force other companies to increase their rates will affect those municipalities as well.