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CUB says its first Downstate office will aid watchdog efforts

The Citizens Utility Board has opened its first office outside of Chicago, in the Central Illinois town of Hillsboro, the Montgomery County seat, as a base for the watchdog group’s statewide effort to help consumers save on utility bills.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on being a statewide organization, and opening the office in Hillsboro gives our tiny group a base to do our jobs that much better,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “Each year, we travel thousands of miles across Illinois to help consumers cut their electric and natural gas bills, and the Hillsboro office is now an important part of that mission.”

Outreach Coordinator Rajiv Ravulapati, who has represented CUB at hundreds of events, and new Environmental Outreach Coordinator Scott Allen, a native of Griggsville, are working out of the office. Hillsboro, is about 50 miles south of Springfield and 65 miles northeast of St. Louis.

CUB chose Hillsboro because it is at the center of historic changes to Illinois’ power grid. This summer, Ameren began installing new digital electric meters in the area. These upgrades have the potential to save consumers money in the long-run, so part of CUB’s watchdog role is to push Ameren to live up to its promise of building a more reliable and affordable power grid. CUB’s mission is also to alert consumers to major changes in Illinois’ electric market, as well as new Ameren power prices set to go into effect in October.

“CUB staffers have to pay electric and gas bills just like everyone else, so we have a vested interest in fighting for lower utility bills and helping consumers better understand them,” Allen said. “There’s nothing better than talking with Illinois consumers, in their communities, about how to cut their electric and natural gas bills.”

“We’ve got a big job, spreading money-saving utility tips from Chicago to Cairo, and now we have a place in Central Illinois to help us coordinate those efforts,” Ravulapati added. “We’re excited to be in our new home.”

People who have questions, concerns or complaints about their utility service should still call the experts at CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1 (800) 669-5556. However, consumers interested in organizing the following events can email Ravulapati,

•A utility-bill clinic, in which CUB experts analyze bills and give consumers money-saving tips;

• A speaking engagement featuring a CUB expert;

• A table at a community fair, in which CUB hands out money-saving light bulbs and helpful publications.

CUB is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, CUB says it has saved consumers more than $10 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds.

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