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ICC moves to better address consumer concerns with alternative energy suppliers

The Illinois Commerce Commission this week unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the creation of a Retail Market Advisory Committee to  help protect consumers dealing with alternative energy suppliers in Illinois.

The ICC’s Office of Retail Market Development, in coordination with the Office of General Counsel and the Consumer Services Division, sought establishment of the committee to encourage more engagement with retail energy suppliers.

“A statutory responsibility of the ICC is to promote electric retail competition. Among the goals of this advisory committee is expanding the dialogue with alternative suppliers to ensure excellent service is being provided to Illinois customers,” said ICC Chairman Brien J. Sheahan.

The ICC is required by state statute to promote retail competition to benefit all Illinois consumers (220 ILCS 5/20-110). The Office of Retail Market Development director and staff are tasked with actively seeking out ways to promote retail competition to benefit all Illinois consumers.

The resolution calls for the new advisory committee to consist of approximately 20-25 members from alternative retail electric and natural gas suppliers. The members will serve without compensation or reimbursement for their expenses. The Office of Retail Market Development staff will announce the selection process at a future date.

The ICC will collaborate with the new advisory committee to prepare an annual policy session on retail market competition and to create new and expanded communication tools, including a website page and newsletter.

Earlier this year, the ICC adopted stringent new rules to put an end to deceptive marketing practices that had been used by some companies in the alternative retail electric industry. The new rules will ensure consumers have information about electricity supplier options that enable them to compare offers and utility plans and make better-informed decisions. The new marketing guidelines also provide regulators with improved enforcement mechanisms, and require suppliers to take improved verification and quality control measures.

“By proactively communicating with alternative energy suppliers and fostering an open dialogue, we hope to prevent problems in the retail market and identify early solutions to better protect consumers. The advisory committee will also ensure proper implementation and compliance of the new rules,” said Sheahan.

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