When state rules changed to allow independent sale of energy aggregation, local municipalities jumped at the chance to buy power in bulk.
But so have 16 private companies certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission. And some of them are using questionable sales tactics to sell their version of cut-rate power, including cold-calling, door-to-door solicitation and multi-level marketing. Often they are selling electricity at a rate higher than the price the village negotiated.
The village issued a statement last week warning residents that energy companies were taking advantage of the publicity surrounding the official village aggregation program, approved by voter referendum last March.
“Some are incorrectly suggesting to residents that they represent ComEd or your aggregating supplier,” said Village Administrator Tim Gillian. “They suggest you need to sign up with them to participate in the aggregation.”
Mary Daly, a Forest Park senior citizen with short-term memory issues, got a call from Verde Energy in April and signed up for their program, her sister Sharon said. In May, she was contacted by telephone again and signed up with another supplier, Clearview Electric. Clearview offered her a rate of 7.5 cents/kilowatt hour, which was less than the ComEd rate of 7.75 cents/kwh. However, the village rate, which requires no sign-up to kick in is 4.68 cents/kwh.
“With the number of seniors in town, I thought it was important,” said Sharon Daly (who is a Forest Park Review columnist).
She tried to screen the calls, but “when [my sister] would put me on the phone, I would say, ‘Do you have a website? Can you send something in the mail?’ They would say no, that as soon as you sign up you’ll get the paperwork.”
Daly said she felt inundated with phone calls in the spring and was annoyed that her sister chose a more expensive option.
Forest Parkers do not need to do sign up with anyone to participate in the aggregation, the village news release said. The aggregating supplier will not contact them in person or by phone, Gillian emphasized.
“Anyone who signs up with an agent will definitely be excluded from the aggregation,” he added.
This article was updated to correct the aggregated electricity rates.