Taylorville mayor Greg Brotherton is cautioning residents to look closely at the contracts other electricity suppliers offer before signing up—and possibly being locked in—to more costly electric supply. This follows recent attempts by alternative electricity suppliers to switch Taylorville residents from the city’s electric supply program.
Mayor Brotherton says that people have every right to choose the electric supplier they want, but Brotherton says recent attempts by door-to-door salesmen to get residents and small businesses in Taylorville to switch to other suppliers reminds residents that the old adage, ‘Buyer beware,’ is still good advice.
The mayor said he was concerned that door-to-door and telemarketing campaigns that have been conducted since the city started its “electric aggregation” program appeared to target senior citizens.
Brotherton says that many seniors can be confused, misled, and pressured into accepting a deal that can end up costing them more in the long run.
Taylorville residents two years ago voted to authorize the city to seek competitive bids for electricity delivered to homes and small businesses in the community. The city council secured a three-year contract that fixed the electric supply rate at 4.194 cents per kilowatthour for three years, through February 2016. The Taylorville initiative brought local electricity consumers one of the lowest rates for the longest duration of any municipal electric aggregation program in the state.
Brotherton suggested that local Ameren customers ask at least three initial questions when considering an offer made by an alternative supply solicitor: (1) what is the rate per kilowatthour, (2) will it remain the same throughout the length of the contract, and (3) how long is the contract?
If the offer is for more than 4-point-194 cents per kilowatthour, can be changed during the contract’s duration, and is for a term less than 15 months, it will be more costly than the city’s electric aggregation program.
Brotherton says the City of Taylorville allowed residents who did not wish to participate to opt out without a fee or penalty both before and after the program began. But while it costs nothing to leave the Taylorville program, some alternative suppliers charge as much as 150-dollars to cancel their contracts. That can discourage a resident or small business, learning that they were paying less under the city electric supply program, from returning.
Brotherton suggested caution if a marketer asks for an account number or electric bill before you have made a decision to sign up. An account number is all that is needed to place the account with another supplier, known as “slamming,” without the customer knowing or authorizing.
If they claim to represent the City of Taylorville, enrollment in the city program was automatic unless a resident opted out. Brotherton said no one from the city will call or knock on doors to enroll people in the city program.
If they offer a low introductory rate, such features can lead a consumer into a contract in which rates can be increased substantially after the first month or two. Some plans also have limits on electricity usage, after which customers pay market rates, which can increase substantially during periods of heavy demand for electricity.
If you have further questions, please contact the Mayor's office at 287-7946.