Chicago’s Citizens Utility Board (CUB) announced it has signed asettlement agreement with Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) thatobligates the utility to terminate its controversial marketingprogram, which was designed to give the utility’s affiliatecompanies an edge in the coming competitive energy market.

Under the terms of the settlement, Edison has agreed todiscontinue a program in which it sent out “blatantly misleading”mailings urging its customers to give the utility and itsunregulated affiliates access to confidential energy usage andaccount information. ComEd also has agreed to send correctiveletters to all 100,000 residential customers and 30,000 smallbusiness customers who received mailings as part of the program.

CUB had filed a complaint with the Illinois Commerce Commission(ICC) asking the agency to force the utility to end the program.The complaint, filed earlier this month, alleged that ComEd’sprogram was designed to undermine its competitors and preempt anICC investigation required by Illinois’ new deregulation law.Denying competitors customer information and giving it only toComEd, would give the utility an edge. That complaint will bedismissed as part of the settlement.

“It is extremely important as we move toward competition, thatthe utilities not be allowed to use their monopoly position to gaina competitive advantage,” CUB attorney Rob Kelter said. “Moreover,there must be zero tolerance for any company sending customersmisleading information.”

ComEd will destroy any information or authorization formsreceived from customers and will not share the information withanyone, CUB said. The letter to customers will explain that theprogram has been terminated and that their confidential accountinformation has not and will not be shared with any company otherthan ComEd.

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