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I-Team update: Electric company investigation

By: Jason Knowles |

The Illinois Commerce Commission is now officially taking action against one electric supplier after allegations of misleading marketing practices.

The ABC7 I-Team first told you last week about the electric provider Major Energy. A consumer watchdog group accused the company of offering bad deals, but Major Energy has denied any wrongdoing. Now, the Illinois Commerce Commission says it’s now launching an investigation.

On Tuesday, the ICC officially adopted a recommendation from its staff to open an investigation into Major Energy, based in Orangeburg, New York. The ICC is alleging misrepresentation and deceptive marketing practices, saying many people didn’t understand the terms of their variable rate contracts.

Last week, the ICC told the I-Team that Major Energy was the “worst alternative electric supplier,” based on the number of complaints compared to its customer base.

The Citizens Utility Board also says Major Energy has a recent record of several complaints from people like Gretchen Schreiber. She signed a contract with Major Energy after she says a salesperson told her that she’d pay the same rate or less, than ComEd, but her winter and spring bills sky rocketed.

“It wasn’t a fixed rate, and then my rate quadrupled,” said Schreiber.

She says she didn’t understand that she was on a variable rate plan.

A spokesperson for Major Energy said its complaints have dropped more than 90 percent since April, and blamed the polar vortex. A spokesperson also said: “Major Energy denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend ourselves against any and all allegations… We and our representatives market our services following all state and local laws, rules and regulations…”

Late Tuesday afternoon, Major Energy added it will cooperate in the ICC investigation and looks forward to being vindicated. It also says it educates consumers about fixed rate plans.

But depending on the outcome, Major Energy could have its certificate suspended or revoked. The company can also be ordered to pay fines or refund consumers.
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