Regulator Announces New Enforcement Team Focused On Retail Energy Suppliers
"Will Not Tolerate Bad Behavior"
November 6, 2020 Email This Story Copyright 2010-20 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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"Building on research and analysis from its Office of Retail Market Development, and in
response to persistent consumer complaints," the Illinois Commerce Commission announced new
strategic planning, "including a sharpened focus upon its deployment of Staff resources to bolster
"The Commission also took these steps in light of recently enacted state laws and
regulations designed to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive actions by certain alternative retail
electric suppliers (ARES) and alternative gas suppliers (AGS) who either directly violate consumer
protections or simply fail to properly manage the sales agents they hire to solicit Illinois utility
customers," the ICC said
"Illinois is a restructured state, which means competition among suppliers’ retail products and services
is meant to provide solutions and benefits to Illinoisans. One of the ICC’s responsibilities is to ensure
that a fair competitive retail energy markets exists. Unfortunately, certain unscrupulous suppliers
threaten competition via misleading marketing and by taking advantage of unsuspecting residential and
small business customers," said Chairman Carrie K. Zalewski.
"The strategic investment in our legal
and consumer advocacy resources is a strong signal to the industry that the ICC will not tolerate bad
behavior by their respective companies or their sales agents," Zalewski said
As previously reported, on January 1, 2020, the Illinois legislature enacted the Home Energy Affordability and Transparency
(HEAT) Act. As summarized by the ICC, the bill, "addresses frequent consumer complaints by putting an end to early termination
fees and automatic renewal of contracts."
"The HEAT Act further provides protections for LIHEAP
eligible customers, new bonding and licensing requirements, and strengthens the ICC’s enforcement
tools, such as allowing it to order companies found in violation of Illinois laws and rules to adhere to
compliance plans designed by the Commission," the ICC said
Specifically, the new law prohibits retail suppliers from serving customers participating in certain financial assistance programs (such as LIHEAP) unless the supplier offers a Commission-approved guaranteed savings plan. For electric customers only, such assistance customers may be served by a municipal aggregation without any guarantee of savings
The ICC has also initiated a rulemaking
proceeding to revise Parts 412 and draft Part 512, the rules outlining the obligations of ARES and AGS.
"These new efforts, which include limited but critical additions to our Staff, will help us implement
new policy changes, boost our enforcement activity, and complement the ongoing work of our Office
of General Counsel, Office of Retail Market Development, and Consumer Services Division," said ICC
Executive Director Christy George.