Lightford050219SPRINGFIELD – To protect consumers from being taken advantage of due to misinformation from alternative retail electric suppliers, Senate Majority Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is leading legislation that was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

“The data clearly demonstrates that alternative suppliers focus their signup efforts on low-income neighborhoods, those where English is a secondary language, and communities of color,” Lightford said. “I am proud to stand with Attorney General Raoul to protect our most vulnerable residents from unknowingly signing contracts that will result in rate hikes they cannot afford.”

According to the Attorney General’s Office, over the last three years consumers enrolled with alternative retail electric suppliers have paid almost $400 million more in electricity costs than consumers who stayed with their default public utility.

“Alternative retail electricity and gas suppliers attract customers with promises of free electricity or lower utility bills, but the truth is that almost no one pays less after signing a contract with one of these suppliers,” Raoul said. “The HEAT Act ensures that suppliers provide consumers with substantive information and price comparisons so that they can make informed decisions before signing contracts that could tie them to higher rates.”

Senate Bill 651 prevents alternative electric and gas suppliers from converting enrolled participants of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Percentage of Income Payment Plan from their current utility provider to an alternative supplier unless certain requirements are met.

The proposal requires all marketing materials and customer bills to contain a price comparison of utility supply rates. Suppliers will also have to notify customers when their rates will increase. Lastly, the legislation prevents automatic contract renewals that amount to a higher monthly rate without the customer’s consent and eliminates renewals from a fixed rate to a variable rate.

The plan now heads to the House for consideration.

Category: News

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