Electricity buyers warned to beware of scammers
By bob okon firstname.lastname@example.org August 20, 2012 9:20PM
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:08AM
JOLIET — Wait for the letter with the official city of Joliet logo on it.
That was the advice from City Hall on Monday as Joliet residents were welcomed to an opportunity for lower electric rates through a government-organized buying group. Unfortunately, they also could be getting deceptive phone calls from private energy companies trying to grab their business.
People will know they’re getting the real thing when they get offers through the mail — probably sometime after September — with official city of Joliet letterheads inviting them to join the buying group, a city official said.
The Joliet City Council voted unanimously Monday to give residents and small businesses the opportunity to “opt in,” as they call it, into the Will Electric Aggregation Group that has banded 21 area municipalities together into a buying group that will get electricity at about 40 percent less than what ComEd is charging.
One problem, noted Councilman Larry Hug: “I understand there’s some scamming going on.”
It’s so, said Victoria Johnson, a representative for FirstEnergy Solutions, the company that is selling electricity to the Will Electric Aggregation Group.
“We can’t really avoid that,” Johnson said.
Johnson said other companies that sell electricity have been calling consumers. Some refer to “government aggregation,” she said, and many of them have the word “energy” in their names.
“They will sound the same — energy,” Johnson said. “When they see the bill, they see it’s not FirstEnergy.”
City Manager Thomas Thanas said the city plans a public information campaign to clear up matters for those interested in opting in with the Will Electric Aggregation Group.
Joliet is opting in because city voters in March voted down a referendum to join the buyers group organized by the Will County Governmental League. Sixteen other Will County towns approved the referendum. People there have the option to “opt out,” which means individuals are switched over to FirstEnergy unless they return forms they get in the mail and indicate they don’t want to join.
Residents and small business owners in Joliet and four other towns that voted down the referendum will get forms in the mail, which they must return if they want to join in. That’s called “opting in.”
People in Joliet who get the forms and do nothing will simply stay with ComEd as they are now. And, Thanas noted, everyone will continue to get bills from ComEd and electric service from ComEd. It’s only the electricity that’s coming from FirstEnergy — not the service. So, it’s only the electricity supply portion of the bill that gets discounted in the changeover to FirstEnergy — not the entire bill.
“This will not change anything in the way electricity is delivered,” Thanas said. “If we have outages, we still call ComEd.”