CUB’s top 10 list of consumer victories for 2013

January 22, 2014

From CUB Winter 2013 newsletter

Citizens Utility Board (CUB) fought for $300 million in savings for Illinois consumers in 2013 — besides the thousands of individuals the consumer watchdog helped. Following are some highlights:

1. Amazing savings! The consumer advocacy team takes about 10,000 consumer inquiries a year and sometimes spots utility mistakes that lead to big savings. CUB helped individuals save a total of $16,800 in 2013, plus the savings the outreach team showed people at approximately 400 events this year.

2. CUB wins $72 million Nicor Gas customer refund. In June, state regulators ruled that Nicor owed consumers $72 million for illegally profiting off stored gas when customer prices reached record highs. CUB is still appealing the case to fight for another $200 million.

3. State appellate court upholds $37 million ComEd refund. The September decision capped off a six-year legal battle waged by CUB and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

4. Local Phone Cost-cutter reaches major milestone. CUB’s customized tool reached two major milestones in 2013: 50,000 phone bills analyzed, resulting in $10 million in annual savings. The free online service is available at www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.

5. CUB launches Spanish language website. In April, three CUB staffers unveiled a comprehensive version of CUB’s website in Spanish, at www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org/Espanol.

6. Competition nets 700 new CUBenergysaver.com members. Competition among 10 Presence Health hospitals gained 700 new members for CUB Energy Saver, an online tool that has been showing people how to save $100 a year.

7. CUB raises red flags on ripoffs. In February, CUB warned consumers that electric utility prices would soon drop. In June, the prices did drop, and potential savings were either wiped out or reduced significantly.

8. CUB campaigns across Illinois to save consumers money. In June, CUB and wireless research firm Validas informed Illinois consumers of a possible $1.4 billion loss on the wrong wireless data plans. In October, CUB told them about $37 million a year in potential savings through utility programs that help homes become more energy efficient.

9. Automatic rate hikes defeated — for now. In March, CUB and AARP Illinois managed to defeat a plan by natural gas utilities to push a bill through Springfield that would have weakened Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) oversight and led to annual automatic rate hikes averaging up to $150 million a year. Three thousand consumer messages sent through CUB’s Action Network helped hold the line — for now.

10. CUB reaches 10,000 people on social media. In the fall, CUB’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bubillinois, tallied 7,500 fans, and its Twitter page, www.twitter.com/cubillinois, gained more than 3,500 followers.

Posted Jan. 22, 2014

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