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Statement: Victory for consumers with passage of the Home Energy Affordability & Transparency (HEAT) Act
The Illinois House of Representative today passed Senate Bill 651, the Home Energy Affordability & Transparency (HEAT) Act by a bipartisan vote of 116-0. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, now returns to the Illinois Senate, where its sponsor Sen. Kimberly Lightford will look for final passage. The Senate previously passed a version of the bill with bipartisan support, 43-10.
The HEAT Act, championed by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, represents a significant reform to the alternative retail energy supply industry. A summary of the legislation and a list of supporters are below.
In response to the House vote, Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr released the following statement:
“The passage of the HEAT Act is a victory for consumers. For too long, too many consumers have paid too much for alternative electric and gas supply. Instead of competing by providing the highest quality energy service, many in the industry have competed through unfair and deceptive marketing practices, burying important policies in fine print and dangling teaser rates that lead to ballooning bills.
We applaud Attorney General Raoul for leading the campaign, our bill sponsors Senator Lightford and Representative Gordon-Booth, and the many organizations that supported this important legislation. We call on the Senate to concur, and Governor Pritzker to sign SB651 in to law.”
The HEAT Act responds to abuses in the alternative retail energy supply industry. Over the last four years consumers enrolled with alternative retail electric suppliers have paid more than $600 million more in electricity costs than those who stayed with their public utility. Consumers in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have been disproportionately harmed by suppliers’ deception and high costs, according to data compiled by the Office of the Attorney General. The legislation:
Requires the utility’s comparison price, a “price to compare,” on all supplier marketing materials, during telephone and door-to-door solicitations, and on every consumer’s utility bill so consumers can make informed decisions;
Eliminates early termination fees and penalties so consumers can switch back to utility supply without penalty;
Stops the practice of switching consumers from fixed to variable rates without their express consent and requires suppliers inform consumers of new rates before renewing a customer’s contract;
Protects public energy assistance funds from being wasted to pay the higher prices charged by alternative retail energy suppliers;
Requires suppliers to report their rates to the Illinois Commerce Commission and Attorney General;
Improves the attorney general’s existing authority to protect consumers from suppliers’ unlawful and deceptive marketing practices.
Supporters of the HEAT Act include: AARP, Citizen Action Illinois, Illinois PIRG, Citizens Utility Board, Heartland Alliance, Community Organizing, and Family Issues, Legal Aid Society, of Metropolitan Family Services, Woodstock Institute, Environmental Law and Policy Center and Elevate Energy
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