March 31, 2023
CleanChoice Settlement a Win for Consumers
Settlement will include payment to low-income solar program, greater clarity in messaging
Many ELPC and Citizens Utility Board members want to help make the air cleaner and reduce CO2 by signing up with alternative retail electric suppliers (ARES), who offer to sell them renewable energy.
Unfortunately, in many instances, customers have not gotten real value in return for agreeing to pay more for renewable energy. And in some instances, marketers have not been fully transparent about price, offering a teaser rate for a few months and then putting customers on a “market rate” that is significantly higher than the ComEd or Ameren price.
The system is complicated because most marketers don’t sell actual clean power, they sell renewable energy credits (RECs). If the RECs are new, that purchase helps develop the market much more than if the RECs are a few years old.
In order to help improve the system, ELPC and CUB filed a complaint against CleanChoice which is one of the most popular competitive suppliers. Our complaint against CleanChoice alleged that the company failed to make important disclosures on price to customers, and charged them much higher rates after their initial trial periods without following marketing disclosure requirements.
Foremost, CleanChoice has agreed to pay $525,000 to the Illinois Solar for All Program for the benefit of low- and moderate-income households. While it took a while, we’ve made sure that customers who paid more to get renewable energy ultimately get value that advances clean energy at home in Illinois.
Mailers, emails and handouts touting the benefits of powering your home with renewable energy will soon be more precise about what exactly they’re offering.
CleanChoice has agreed to a plan that will let consumers make informed decisions about their power. The new disclosures, side-by-side pricing and an end to practices like stamping mailings “Second Notice” will help energy customers evaluate the product based on its merit, not its marketing.
Many customers are willing to pay more for clean power, but ELPC will continue to try to improve the system to ensure they can understand the pricing and that they get valuer for their dollars.
As noted above, CleanChoice’s payment is the result of a voluntary settlement. CleanChoice has made no admission of wrongdoing, and the Illinois Commerce Commission has made no finding of wrongdoing by CleanChoice.