Arlington Heights defends deal with energy supplier fined by state for deceptive sales tactics
Arlington Heights' new green energy electric aggregation supplier was ordered to pay $1 million in a settlement with the Illinois attorney general's office over past deceptive sales tactics.
But village officials on Tuesday defended their deal with Chicago-based Eligo Energy, and said the local renewable energy initiative set to take effect in December -- in which wind farms in the Midwest help supply power to the electricity grid -- is still a bona fide program.
Village Manager Randy Recklaus said Eligo officials never hid the fact of their settlement with Attorney General Kwame Raoul earlier this year, and had already gotten rid of their third party telemarketer in 2016 before the attorney general's office contacted them.
Eligo wasn't sued, and the settlement to repay customers $1 million was voluntary, Recklaus said.
"We were aware of it. We went into it with our eyes open," Recklaus said. "They took care of the contractor doing business in their name."
The attorney general said Eligo's sales agents failed to disclose its rates and fees to customers, referenced a fake energy choice program and promised customers would save up to 20 percent with Eligo, even though most paid more than they would have with ComEd, according to an Aug. 19 news release.
Under the agreement with Raoul, the company is banned from telemarketing and door-to-door marketing for three years.
The firm now focuses on providing bulk renewable power to municipalities. Arlington Heights inked a one-year deal with Eligo in September to purchase renewable energy certificates from wind-generated energy to offset the electricity load of residential and small business customers. The village also is set to get a civic contribution of $174,963 to pay for green initiatives, such as electric car charging stations in downtown parking garages.
Only one other firm, MC Squared, submitted a proposal, but its $75,000 contribution to the village was less than what Eligo offered.
More than a dozen towns in Illinois have signed up to get their electric supply from Eligo, with Franklin Park and Aurora recently joining the list.
Under the arrangement, some electric customers get their supply from Eligo, and others from ComEd, based on their individual usage. But everyone pays the same ComEd rate, Arlington Heights officials said.
The program is also no extra cost to the village, they said.
Users are automatically enrolled unless they opt out by Nov. 4. Letters started going out to electric customers last week.
The impetus for the program came after the village board set exploring sustainability initiatives as one of its strategic priorities. Officials say the effort will help reduce carbon emissions.
The aggregation program begins with December meter-reading cycles and runs through 2020.