- Illinois regulators last week adopted new rules to better protect retail choice customers, including three significant changes aiming to better improve disclosures and ensure sufficient information is available about energy offerings.
- The new rules standardize contract requirements and require suppliers to make more detailed disclosures about environmentally friendly, or "green", offers.
- The Illinois Commerce Commission began examining retail market techniques following a spike in electricity prices during the polar vortex winter of 2013-2014, which subsequently led to a sharp increase in public complaints about retail suppliers' marketing practices.
Regulators say the new rules are a "major victory" for the public, helping to ensure customers know what they are purchasing and how it will impact their bills.
In addition to standardizing contract requirements and requiring a Uniform Disclosure Statement for all retail electric supplier solicitations, the new rules require suppliers to disclose whether rates will vary over time or are fixed. Suppliers also must disclose changes in rates to customers in advance.
More information on clean energy options will also be required.
Disclosure and verification of sales requirements will be extended to all in-person marketing. In addition, suppliers must record and retain all telemarketing sales calls, including in-bound calls. Retail electric suppliers also may not use utility names and logos in the same territory of the customer’s electric utility.
ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan said in a statement that the changes represent "a major victory for the public interest and all stakeholders by ensuring consumers have clear information to make good choices regarding
their energy needs."
Work on the rule changes began in 2014. The changes are similar to steps taken in New York to protect consumers amid rampant reports of overcharging. In that state, however, the new rules have been challenged by energy marketers.
Over the summer, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, lifted a temporary ban on retail sales to low income customers.