Municipal aggregation: City complains to state about telephone solicitations

News Release: June, 2012

Four Urbana residents have complained in recent days that they were the victim of aggressive and misleading telephone solicitations regarding electricity contracts.

The city has forwarded the complaints about Liberty Power, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based retail electric supplier, to the Illinois Commerce Commision consumer services division.

Residents told city officials that the telephone solicitor was aggressive and implied that they were confirming the residents enrollment into the city's aggregation program, and that they had limited time to act.

Two residents said that when they called Liberty Power to rescind their enrollment, the phone number they were given didn't work.

Residents who are concerned they may have been switched to Liberty Power can contact Ameren Illinois at 800-755-5000 and ask them to rescind the enrollment.

Mark Fanning of Homefield Energy, which will be the city's supplier of electricity under municipal electric aggregation, said that Homefield is not calling residents on the telephone except in cases where people have questions and requested a response.

"Especially with respect to municipal electric aggregation, Homefield Energy employees do not call customers to solicit their business," he said. "Homefield also does not do door-to-door sales."

Urbana signed a two-year contract with Homefield Energy to supply electricity to most residents at a rate of 4.05 cents per kilowatt hour. In recent weeks, most residents have received an "opt-out" letter informing them they are enrolled in the city's program, but that they have the option to opt-out of the program if they do not want to participate. Residents can opt out by returning a postcard or letter, or e-mailing or calling Homefield Energy.

The complaints about Liberty Power also extend across Wright Street. Karen Johnson of the Champaign Public Works Department, said her office has received four complaints from residents about the company.

"They're saying give us your account information and posing as reps for the city's (aggregation) vendor," Johnson said. "Some people are getting multiple calls." 

Pete Montaner, director of the Illinois Commerce Commission consumer services division, said that consumers who are concerned about a solicitation can contact his office at 800-524-0795 or can file a complaint via e-mail at http://www.icc.illinois.gov/ by clicking on the link that says "file a complaint."

Residents can also file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General's office by calling 800-243-0618 or going to http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/, going to "protecting consumers" and filing out a complaint form on line.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said they had received complaints about Liberty Power and that they were "aware of the situation." She encouraged residents to file complaints with the office if they are concerned.