After problems with energy supplier, Arlington Heights picks a different firm
Citing "skeletons in the closet" and communication problems, Arlington Heights officials will flip the switch to a different green energy electric aggregation supplier once their one-year trial is done with a firm ordered to pay a $1 million settlement over deceptive sales tactics.
As the trial program with Chicago-based Eligo Energy is due to expire at the end of the year, the village will ink a new three-year contract with competitor MC Squared Energy Services to manage the local renewable energy initiative, in which wind farms in the Midwest help supply power to the electricity grid.
Village officials said they received hundreds upon hundreds of phone calls at village hall a year ago from confused residents who started receiving notification letters about the electric program.
Then word got out about Eligo's settlement with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, in which the company paid customers $1 million and was banned from telemarketing and door-to-door marketing for three years.
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% with Eligo, even though most paid more than they would have with ComEd, according to an Aug. 19, 2019 news release.
The firm inked a one-year deal with Arlington Heights in September 2019 to provide renewable energy certificates from wind-generated energy to offset the electricity load of residential and small business customers.
A year later, the village is rejecting Eligo's latest bid for a three-year contract, in favor of one submitted by MC Squared. That's despite Eligo's offer of a $254,957 yearly civic contribution for green projects in Arlington Heights, compared to $150,000 offered annually by MC Squared.
"We want to make sure that we have a smooth transition process given some of the challenges we faced last time," said Village Manager Randy Recklaus. "We want to make sure our residents are comfortable with who we partner with and that the communications can be clearer."
During a village board meeting Monday night, trustees peppered Recklaus and the village's energy consultant with questions about the new contract.
"It's safe to say there are no skeletons in the closet with this one?" asked Trustee Robin LaBedz. "I know there was a lot of concern not just with the questions (from residents), but the reputation of the company we actually did go with."
Recklaus said officials checked the references of MC Squared, and the firm has an "impeccable reputation."
Trustee Bert Rosenberg was the lone board member to vote against the deal, citing the bigger contribution being offered by Eligo.
Residents could receive up to two letters in the coming weeks: one, informing them of the new energy supplier, and another, for residents deemed to be the most energy efficient. That group will have their power provider switched to MC Squared unless they opt out, and all others will remain with ComEd. All customers will pay ComEd rates, officials said.