SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With unfair and unwarranted rate hikes legislation moving through the General Assembly in Springfield, AARP Illinois is putting pedal to the metal and launching a statewide Utility Van Tour to inform citizens about their rights as consumers and urge them to take action to keep utility rates affordable.
"Utility companies have unleashed the attack of the utility rates on Illinois ratepayers," said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. "AARP is traveling across Illinois to inform citizens about the different pieces of legislation aimed at increasing their rates, and to help them fight back by contacting their legislators and urging them to vote no on these bills."
The Utility Van Tour's first stop will be May 3rd at the Senior Expo in Decatur. Throughout May, the Tour will make stops in Peoria, Springfield, Edwardsville and Chicago.
Older residents, working families and other consumers facing financial struggles may be hard hit with a new wave of utility rate increases if several bills introduced before the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield are signed into law. Current legislation pending could raise consumers' rates for electric, natural gas, water and telephone service, all without any guarantee of improved service.
Monopoly natural gas companies People's/North Shore Gas and Ameren Gas want to go around their regulators at the Illinois Commerce Commission and get guaranteed rate hikes and guaranteed higher profits put into law. Senate Bill 1665, which has been called a 'natural gas tax' by consumer advocates, is very similar to the controversial, 2011 ComEd & Ameren automatic rate hike bill. The legislation would:
- Automatically raise 2.5 to 5% delivery service rates, annually over the next decade;
- Would not include "smart grid" component = no potential benefits or improved service;
- Would write into law a guaranteed rate of return 5.8% points above Treasury rates - despite even lower risk.
Consumers can take action right now by calling, toll-free, 1-800-719-3020 to be connected to their legislators, or going online to http://saynotoratehikes.com, to send them a message and urge them to vote no on these bills. Illinoisans can register to attend events in Decatur, Peoria and Chicago online at AARP.cvent.com/saynotoratehikes or use the Twitter hashtag #affordableutilitiesnow to tweet if their rates are too high.
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SOURCE AARP Illinois