Mayor’s Press Office 312.744.3334
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today joined Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) CEO Eugene Jones Jr. and the Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) Samantha Fields to announce all retail electric suppliers are banned from soliciting on CHA properties, effective immediately. In a warning letter from Commissioner Fields and CEO Eugene Jones Jr., the action was taken due to aggressive and misleading actions taken on the part of some electric suppliers via door-to-door marketing on CHA properties.
“Some electric suppliers have preyed upon CHA residents by illegally gaining access to buildings and going door-to-door to residents falsely claiming rates will not go up,” Mayor Emanuel said. “I commend CEO Jones and Commissioner Fields for working together to protect Chicagoans and keep thousands of hard-earned dollars in residents’ pockets.”
The Warning Letter was spurred by a series of complaints received by CHA, the Office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) that identified electric suppliers gaining access to CHA properties and soliciting residents door to door. Certain electric suppliers promise lower bills by pretending to be from authorized utility companies and by requesting utility account numbers, which enable them to switch an individual’s electricity supplier without their knowledge or authorization. Suppliers will attempt to convince residents they are required to switch to an alternative energy supplier. An analysis by CUB showed that some Chicago customers are paying over an extra $130 extra per year than if they would have stayed with the regular utility.
“From the beginning, CHA’s primary focus has been the well-being of its residents, and it is imperative that we address this issue swiftly and firmly,” Jones, Jr. said.
“I am proud to work with CHA to protect residents from predatory sales tactics,” said Commissioner Fields. “We will partner with Attorney General Madigan, CUB, and others to aggressively pursue legal action against retail electric suppliers who manipulate facts and create false guarantees at the expense of residents.”
In addition to the banning of electric suppliers, BACP and CHA will work with CUB and the Attorney General’s Office to educate and inform CHA residents as to consumer protections, including letters to residents in CHA properties to inform them of the ban and simple guides to educate residents on electric suppliers. BACP, CHA, the Attorney General’s Office and CUB will be partnering to provide workshops to CHA residents and staff.
“I commend the City of Chicago for taking this important step to protect people from harassing and misleading claims of cheaper electricity bills,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “These offers are often riddled with hidden costs ¬and terms that cause consumers who can least afford it to overpay for their utility service. Preying on vulnerable residents is an unacceptable business practice that I will continue to fight.”
“We thank the City of Chicago for taking action to protect its residents from shady marketers and bad electric deals,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “At CUB we’ve heard it all— skyrocketing bills, salesmen posing as utility employees, and seniors and families being switched to alternative suppliers without their knowledge. Electricity competition is not supposed to be about getting victimized at your doorstep. We are happy to team up with the City, Attorney General Madigan, the Illinois Commerce Commission and anybody else who wants to join the fight against misleading marketing.”
More than 17,000 CHA residents will be protected from predatory retail energy suppliers as a result of this measure.
The easiest way for Chicagoans to compare prices is to visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org which includes a comprehensive list of electricity & gas offers. Residents are also encouraged to call 1- 800-524-0795 to file a complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission or 3-1-1 to file a complaint with the City.