Illinois Senate Passes Bill Which Would Generally Ban Retail Supplier Service To Assistance Program Customers
--- Requires Affirmative Consent For Certain Renewals
--- Prohibits Termination Fees On Time Of Use Rate Plans
--- Requires Suppliers To Report All Rates To Attorney General
--- Requires Disclosure Of PTC In Marketing
--- Requires Utility Supply Rate On Supplier Bills
--- Adopts Switch Block Mechanism
May 2, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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The Illinois Senate has passed SB0651, which contains various revisions to statutes governing retail electric and natural gas marketing.
The bill awaits action in the House
Under the bill, beginning January 1, 2020, an alternative retail electric supplier shall not knowingly submit an enrollment to change a customer's electric supply service if the electric utility's records indicate that the customer received financial assistance in the last 12 months from either the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or, at the time of enrollment, is participating in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan, unless: (1) the customer's change in electric supply service is pursuant to a government aggregation program adopted in accordance with Section 1-92 of the Illinois Power Agency Act; or (2) the customer's change in electric supply service is pursuant to a Commission-approved savings guarantee plan as described below
Beginning July 1, 2020, an alternative retail electric supplier may apply to the Illinois Commerce Commission to offer a savings guarantee plan to recipients of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or Percentage of Income Payment Plan funding. At a minimum, the savings guarantee plan shall charge customers for electric supply less than the amount charged by the electric utility for electric supply.
SB0651 requires that all marketing materials, including, but not limited to, electronic marketing materials, in-person solicitations, and telephone solicitations, shall disclose the current utility electric supply price to compare applicable at the time the alternative retail electric supplier is offering or selling the products or services to the customer and shall disclose the date on which the utility electric supply price to compare became effective and the date on which it will expire.
All marketing materials, including, but not limited to, electronic marketing materials, in-person solicitations, and telephone solicitations, shall include the following statement: "(Name of the alternative retail electric supplier) is not the same entity as your electric delivery company. You are not required to enroll with (name of alternative retail electric supplier). Beginning on (effective date), the electric supply price to compare is (price in cents per kilowatt hour). The electric utility electric supply price will expire on (expiration date). The utility electric supply price to compare does not include the purchased electricity adjustment factor that may range between +.5 cents and -.5 cents per kilowatt hour. For more information go to the Illinois Commerce Commission's free website at www.pluginillinois.org.".
The marketing requirements described above do not apply to goodwill or institutional advertising.
SB0651 requires that, every alternative retail electric supplier or electric utility other than the electric utility in whose service area retail customers are located that issues single bills to the retail customers for the services provided by the alternative retail electric supplier or other electric utility to the customers shall include on the single bills issued to residential customers the current utility electric supply price to compare that would apply to the customer for the billing period if the customer obtained supply from the utility. The current utility electric supply price shall be the sum of the electric supply charge and the transmission services charge and shall disclose that the price does not include the monthly purchased electricity adjustment.
Every electric utility that provides delivery and supply services shall include on each bill issued to residential customers who obtain supply from an alternative retail electric supplier the current utility electric supply price to compare that would apply to the customer for the billing period if the customer obtained supply from the utility. The current utility electric supply price to compare shall be the sum of the electric supply charge and the transmission services charge and shall disclose that the price does not include the monthly purchased electricity adjustment.
Under the bill, beginning January 1, 2020 and every January 1 thereafter, suppliers shall submit to the Commission and the Office of the Attorney General the rates the retail electric
supplier charged to residential customers in the prior year, including each distinct rate charged and whether the rate was a fixed or variable rate, the basis for the variable rate, and any fees charged in addition to the supply rate, including monthly fees, flat fees, or other service charges
Suppliers shall make publicly available on their website, without the need for a customer login, rate information for all of its variable, time-of-use, and fixed rate contracts currently available to residential customers, including, but not limited to, fixed monthly charges, early termination fees, and kilowatt-hour charges.
The bill would allow utilities to discuss retail supplier pricing information with customers as follows and allow customers to place a switch block on their account
An electric utility may:
(1) disclose the current utility electric supply price to a retail customer who takes electric power and energy supply service from an alternative retail electric supplier;
(2) disclose the supply price the customer is paying as reflected on the customer's bill, if known;
(3) furnish to a retail customer a list of frequently asked questions to be used by the retail customer in evaluating electric power and energy supply rate offers by alternative retail electric suppliers; this list may include, but is not limited to, the following: (A) length of the contract; (B) the price per kilowatt hour, and whether the contract price is fixed or variable, and if variable, the circumstances under which the rate may change; (C) whether penalties or early termination fees apply if the customer terminates the contract before the expiration of its term; and (D) whether the customer may be subject to any other adjustments, penalties, surcharges, or costs beyond the electric power and energy supply rate;
(4) provide to a retail customer education information published by the Office of Retail Market Development and the Office of the Attorney General regarding the selection
and evaluation of electric power and energy supply rate offers by alternative retail electric suppliers; and
(5) place a restriction on a retail customer's account, at the customer's request, that prohibits any switching of the customer's electric power and energy supply service to an alternative retail electric supplier; the restriction shall only be removed at the customer's express direction to the utility.
The bill would also adopt new requirements for TPVs.
Each disclosure made during the third-party verification must be made individually to obtain clear acknowledgment of each disclosure. The alternative retail electric supplier must be in a location where he or she cannot hear the customer while the third-party verification is conducted.
After initiating a TPV, "The alternative retail electric supplier shall not contact the customer after the third-party verification for a period of 24 hours unless the customer initiates the contact."
Automatic renewals would be prohibited for a rate that is higher than the current rate, or a switch from fixed to variable, and express consent would be required
The bill provides that if an alternative retail electric supplier seeks to
renew a customer's contract, then at least 30 days, but no
more than 60 days, before the end of the current contract
term the alternative retail electric supplier shall
provide to the customer a written notice that includes a
side-by-side comparison of the rate the customer is being
charged pursuant to the current contract and the rate the
customer would be charged pursuant to the renewed contract.
An alternative retail electric supplier shall not
automatically renew a customer's enrollment after the
current term of the contract expires if the customer does
not expressly consent to the contract renewal in writing or
by electronic signature at least 30 days, but no more than
60 days, before the current contract term expires and (i)
the rate the customer would be charged pursuant to the
renewed contract is greater than the rate of the current
contract, or (ii) the current contract provides that the
customer will be charged a fixed rate and the renewed
contract provides the customer will be charged a variable
The bill provides that customers on a month-to-month variable rate or
time-of-use product shall have the right to terminate their
contract with the alternative retail electric supplier at
any time without any termination fee
Concerning the use of utility logos, the bill provides, an alternative retail electric supplier shall not utilize the name of a public utility in any manner that is deceptive or misleading, including, but not limited to, implying or otherwise leading a customer to believe that an alternative retail electric supplier is soliciting on behalf of or is an agent of a utility. An alternative retail electric supplier shall not utilize the name, or any other identifying insignia, graphics, or wording that has been used at any time to represent a public utility company
or its services, to identify, label, or define any of its
electric power and energy service offers.
retail electric supplier that is an affiliate of an
Illinois public utility and that was doing business in
Illinois providing alternative retail electric service on
January 1, 2016 may continue to use that public utility's
name, logo, identifying insignia, graphics, or wording in
its business operations occurring outside the service
territory of the public utility with which it is
For the provisions described above, the bill also includes substantively similar provisions applicable to the retail natural gas market, including the ban on low-income service but for the two exceptions lists
The bill further provides that the language described above concerning the PTC and the fact that the supplier is not the utility shall be made as part of enrollment disclosures.
The bill provides that the alternative retail electric supplier agent shall obtain consent to enter multi-unit residential dwellings. Consent obtained to enter a multi-unit dwelling from one prospective customer or occupant of the dwelling shall not constitute consent to market to any other prospective customers in the dwelling without separate consent.
Any telemarketing solicitations that lead to a telephone enrollment must be recorded and retained for a minimum of 2 years. All telemarketing calls that do not lead to a telephone enrollment, but last at least 2 minutes, shall be recorded and retained for a minimum of 6
All inbound enrollment calls that lead to an enrollment shall be recorded, and the recordings shall be retained for a minimum of 2 years. An inbound enrollment call that does not lead to an enrollment, but lasts at least 2 minutes, shall be retained for a minimum of 6 months.