Some alternative electric suppliers in Illinois may be investigated for not telling customers that their rates may go up. The Citizens Utility Board filed a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission today Wednesday asking it to look into suppliers charging variable rates without telling consumers how those rates are calculated.
CUB Executive Director David Kolata says the problem isn’t necessarily variable rates, but a lack of transparency. “It’s not like we want to ban variable rates,” Kolata said. “That’s not the message at all. But we do want to make sure that when you have a variable rate, that you’re providing the information that consumers need to make an educated decision.”
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The complaints included in the petition range from customers claiming they weren’t told that their plan allowed for variable rates to accusing suppliers of dodging their phone calls when they tried to cancel their accounts. Kolata says an investigation could lead to the commission imposing fines or revoking a supplier’s certification.
While acknowledging that electricity rates are up across the board, Kolata says there’s no justification for large spikes that have gone as high as 35 cents kilowatts per hour—nearly six times the rate charged by traditional suppliers ComEd and Ameren at the time.