Ecology Action Center reports rise in door-to-door energy solicitors
The nonprofit Ecology Action Center in Normal is warning homeowners in McLean County to be wary of door-to-door energy solicitors and scam artists as spring approaches.
Assistant director Larissa Armstrong is the center's community energy coordinator. Armstrong said it’s an “ongoing issue” in Illinois because of a deregulated energy market and alternative energy laws that give consumers more options — but also leave the door open for less-than-honest service providers.
Armstrong has several pieces of advice for those approached by salespeople, starting by checking official solicitation registrations on municipal websites to check if the people at your door are from a legit company. She advises residents to look for ID badges and identifying logos.
“They have a tendency to talk kind of fast, and so sometimes an alternate supplier might say something to someone about Ameren because they’re trying to offer a deal that’s different than what Ameren has, but that might make people think they’re from Ameren when they might not be,” Armstrong said.
She suggests you never show salespeople your electric bills and that homeowners don’t sign anything without comparing the offer to their current bill and ensuring it will actually be a good deal.
Armstrong noted many municipalities, including Bloomington and Normal, have negotiated rates for residents who use Ameren services though electricity aggregation programs.
“I think it would be very unlikely for any providers going door-to-door to be able to offer a rate that is lower than the one the city and the town have secured for residents that have Ameren service,” she said.
Not every company that goes door to door is attempting to scam residents. Many are legit, Armstrong said. But she recommends caution regardless, and suggests comparing multiple offers from competing companies to ensure you get the best value available.
Armstrong said any proposal for solar energy should include estimate savings from the 30% federal tax credit and the state of Illinois’ renewable energy credits.
She said anyone who has questions can call the Ecology Action Center at (309) 454-3169.