CHICAGO (CBS) – A consumer advocacy group is pushing a proposal to protect customers shopping for alternative electric and gas companies.

Robert Smith’s case prompted a CBS 2 investigation last month. On Tuesday, his story was used by a consumer protection group to announce proposed legislation, CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports.

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“We are here today to call on the General Assembly to pass sweeping reforms in the gas and electric markets,” said David Kolata, of the Citizens Utility Board.

The reforms would be designed to stop alternative suppliers from misleading customers.

Rep. Marcus Evans said his bill would require suppliers to prominently display actual rates on bills, ban automatic renewals at higher rates, and require customer approval for rate changes.

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“These reforms are desperately needed in Illinois gas and electric markets,” said Kolata.

Smith said he signed up for a program that started at five percent below Nicor’s rate, which switched to a variable rate that was supposed to be based on the market.

He wound up paying 99 cents a therm with Energy Rewards–three times more than Nicor’s rate of 32 cents a therm.


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