On Monday, Jan. 30 at the 2017 Consumer Symposium, SGCC announced the three winners of its 2017 CLEAR Awards, which recognize one technology vendor, utility and nonprofit organization for their dedication to consumer engagement and education around smart energy. Throughout March, SGCC will feature online profiles on each winner.
About Illinois Citizens Utility Board (CUB):
The Citizens Utility Board, Illinois’ leading nonprofit consumer advocacy group, was created in 1984 by the Illinois General Assembly to fight for the rights of residential and small-business utility customers. The watchdog group has helped save Illinois consumers more than $20 billion over the years by helping to block utility rate hikes and secure refunds. CUB also advocates for improved energy efficiency programs and provides people with one-on-one guidance to avoid overcharges on their electric, natural gas and telecom bills.
About CUB’s Advocacy & Outreach:
SGCC is honored to award the Illinois Citizens Utility Board the 2017 CLEAR Award for a nonprofit organization for its advocacy for the rights of resident and small business utility customers.
Since its founding in 1983 by the Illinois General Assembly, CUB has become the gold standard for consumer advocacy groups. This independent, nonpartisan nonprofit challenges utility rate increases, fights for rate reductions and refunds of overcharges, and appeals unfair regulatory decisions in the courts. CUB also promotes tougher consumer protection laws in the General Assembly, where rules governing the utilities are written, and publishes consumer education materials. CUB is working to educate consumers and ensure that they are protected from fraudulent or misleading marketing, now that gas and electric competition has been introduced in Illinois.
Additionally, CUB advocates for bigger and better energy efficiency programs in Illinois. The consumer advocacy group provides people with information about how home energy audits, smart thermostats and energy efficient lighting can benefit them and how families can access federal and state incentives for being energy efficient or utilizing renewable energy.
As Illinois’ largest utilities have embarked on more than $3 billion in power grid upgrades, CUB has also played a major role in answering consumers’ questions on smart grid technology. Their online Smart Power Center provides a plethora of easy-to-understand, fact-based educational resources on smart meters, hourly pricing plans, peak-time rebates and more.
CUB’s extensive consumer outreach operation holds more than 400 events a year, including presentations and utility bill clinics, to distribute information showing consumers how to save money on their utility bills. The outreach team also hands out energy-efficient light bulbs and helps sign consumers up for efficiency programs.
CUB often works with other consumer and environmental groups for the benefit of Illinois utility customers. In 2016, the group played a key role in a coalition of 200 nonprofit and business groups that helped pass the Future Energy Jobs Bill, historic legislation that boosts efficiency to record levels to spark billions of dollars in consumer savings.
Also in 2016, CUB worked with Environmental Defense Fund and PJM to implement demand response options for buildings to keep energy costs down. In one of its most innovative partnerships, CUB worked with EDF and ComEd in 2013 to track the customer and environmental benefits of smart grid deployment. That partnership resulted in the adoption of tracking mechanisms and metrics to measure utility performance on issues ranging from reductions in peak energy demand and increased adoption of renewable energy to the uptick in use of smart energy devices and reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Twenty metrics were selected, including ones to measure how smart grid technology reduces GHG emissions and electrical line losses.