(220 ILCS 5/19-115)
    Sec. 19-115. Obligations of alternative gas suppliers.
    (a) The provisions of this Section shall apply only to alternative gas suppliers serving or seeking to serve residential or small commercial customers and only to the extent such alternative gas suppliers provide services to residential or small commercial customers.
    (b) An alternative gas supplier shall:
        (1) comply with the requirements imposed on public
    
utilities by Sections 8-201 through 8-207, 8-301, 8-505 and 8-507 of this Act, to the extent that these Sections have application to the services being offered by the alternative gas supplier;
        (2) continue to comply with the requirements for
    
certification stated in Section 19-110;
        (3) comply with complaint procedures established by
    
the Commission;
        (4) except as provided in subsection (h) of this
    
Section, file with the Chief Clerk of the Commission, within 20 business days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly, a copy of bill formats, standard customer contract and customer complaint and resolution procedures, and the name and telephone number of the company representative whom Commission employees may contact to resolve customer complaints and other matters. In the case of a gas supplier that engages in door-to-door solicitation, the company shall file with the Commission the consumer information disclosure required by item (3) of subsection (c) of Section 2DDD of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and shall file updated information within 10 business days after changes in any of the documents or information required to be filed by this item (4); and
        (5) maintain a customer call center where customers
    
can reach a representative and receive current information. At least once every 6 months, each alternative gas supplier shall provide written information to customers explaining how to contact the call center. The average answer time for calls placed to the call center shall not exceed 60 seconds where a representative or automated system is ready to render assistance and/or accept information to process calls. The abandon rate for calls placed to the call center shall not exceed 10%. Each alternative gas supplier shall maintain records of the call center's telephone answer time performance and abandon call rate. These records shall be kept for a minimum of 2 years and shall be made available to Commission personnel upon request. In the event that answer times and/or abandon rates exceed the limits established above, the reporting alternative gas supplier may provide the Commission or its personnel with explanatory details. At a minimum, these records shall contain the following information in monthly increments:
            (A) total number of calls received;
            (B) number of calls answered;
            (C) average answer time;
            (D) number of abandoned calls; and
            (E) abandon call rate.
    Alternative gas suppliers that do not have electronic answering capability that meets these requirements shall notify the Manager of the Commission's Consumer Services Division or its successor within 30 days following the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly and work with Staff to develop individualized reporting requirements as to the call volume and responsiveness of the call center.
    On or before March 1 of every year, each entity shall file a report with the Chief Clerk of the Commission for the preceding calendar year on its answer time and abandon call rate for its call center. A copy of the report shall be sent to the Manager of the Consumer Services Division or its successor.
    (c) An alternative gas supplier shall not submit or execute a change in a customer's selection of a natural gas provider unless and until (i) the alternative gas supplier first discloses all material terms and conditions of the offer to the customer; (ii) the alternative gas supplier has obtained the customer's express agreement to accept the offer after the disclosure of all material terms and conditions of the offer; and (iii) the alternative gas supplier has confirmed the request for a change in accordance with one of the following procedures:
        (1) The alternative gas supplier has obtained the
    
customer's written or electronically signed authorization in a form that meets the following requirements:
            (A) An alternative gas supplier shall obtain any
        
necessary written or electronically signed authorization from a customer for a change in natural gas service by using a letter of agency as specified in this Section. Any letter of agency that does not conform with this Section is invalid.
            (B) The letter of agency shall be a separate
        
document (or an easily separable document containing only the authorization language described in item (E) of this paragraph (1)) whose sole purpose is to authorize a natural gas provider change. The letter of agency must be signed and dated by the customer requesting the natural gas provider change.
            (C) The letter of agency shall not be combined
        
with inducements of any kind on the same document.
            (D) Notwithstanding items (A) and (B) of this
        
paragraph (1), the letter of agency may be combined with checks that contain only the required letter of agency language prescribed in item (E) of this paragraph (1) and the necessary information to make the check a negotiable instrument. The letter of agency check shall not contain any promotional language or material. The letter of agency check shall contain in easily readable, bold face type on the face of the check a notice that the consumer is authorizing a natural gas provider change by signing the check. The letter of agency language also shall be placed near the signature line on the back of the check.
            (E) At a minimum, the letter of agency must be
        
printed with a print of sufficient size to be clearly legible and must contain clear and unambiguous language that confirms:
                (i) the customer's billing name and address;
                (ii) the decision to change the natural gas
            
provider from the current provider to the prospective alternative gas supplier;
                (iii) the terms, conditions, and nature of
            
the service to be provided to the customer, including, but not limited to, the rates for the service contracted for by the customer; and
                (iv) that the customer understands that any
            
natural gas provider selection the customer chooses may involve a charge to the customer for changing the customer's natural gas provider.
            (F) Letters of agency shall not suggest or
        
require that a customer take some action in order to retain the customer's current natural gas provider.
            (G) If any portion of a letter of agency is
        
translated into another language, then all portions of the letter of agency must be translated into that language.
        (2) An appropriately qualified independent third
    
party has obtained, in accordance with the procedures set forth in this paragraph (2), the customer's oral authorization to change natural gas providers that confirms and includes appropriate verification data. The independent third party must (i) not be owned, managed, controlled, or directed by the alternative gas supplier or the alternative gas supplier's marketing agent; (ii) not have any financial incentive to confirm provider change requests for the alternative gas supplier or the alternative gas supplier's marketing agent; and (iii) operate in a location physically separate from the alternative gas supplier or the alternative gas supplier's marketing agent. Automated third-party verification systems and 3-way conference calls may be used for verification purposes so long as the other requirements of this paragraph (2) are satisfied. An alternative gas supplier or alternative gas supplier's sales representative initiating a 3-way conference call or a call through an automated verification system must drop off the call once the 3-way connection has been established. All third-party verification methods shall elicit, at a minimum, the following information:
            (A) the identity of the customer;
            (B) confirmation that the person on the call is
        
authorized to make the provider change;
            (C) confirmation that the person on the call
        
wants to make the provider change;
            (D) the names of the providers affected by the
        
change;
            (E) the service address of the service to be
        
switched; and
            (F) the price of the service to be provided and
        
the material terms and conditions of the service being offered, including whether any early termination fees apply.
        Third-party verifiers may not market the alternative
    
gas supplier's services by providing additional information. All third-party verifications shall be conducted in the same language that was used in the underlying sales transaction and shall be recorded in their entirety. Submitting alternative gas suppliers shall maintain and preserve audio records of verification of customer authorization for a minimum period of 2 years after obtaining the verification. Automated systems must provide customers with an option to speak with a live person at any time during the call.
        (3) The alternative gas supplier has obtained the
    
customer's authorization via an automated verification system to change natural gas service via telephone. An automated verification system is an electronic system that, through pre-recorded prompts, elicits voice responses, touchtone responses, or both, from the customer and records both the prompts and the customer's responses. Such authorization must elicit the information in paragraph (2)(A) through (F) of this subsection (c). Alternative gas suppliers electing to confirm sales electronically through an automated verification system shall establish one or more toll-free telephone numbers exclusively for that purpose. Calls to the number or numbers shall connect a customer to a voice response unit, or similar mechanism, that makes a date-stamped, time-stamped recording of the required information regarding the alternative gas supplier change.
        The alternative gas supplier shall not use such
    
electronic authorization systems to market its services.
        (4) When a consumer initiates the call to the
    
prospective alternative gas supplier, in order to enroll the consumer as a customer, the prospective alternative gas supplier must, with the consent of the customer, make a date-stamped, time-stamped audio recording that elicits, at a minimum, the following information:
            (A) the identity of the customer;
            (B) confirmation that the person on the call is
        
authorized to make the provider change;
            (C) confirmation that the person on the call
        
wants to make the provider change;
            (D) the names of the providers affected by the
        
change;
            (E) the service address of the service to be
        
switched; and
            (F) the price of the service to be supplied and
        
the material terms and conditions of the service being offered, including whether any early termination fees apply.
        Submitting alternative gas suppliers shall maintain
    
and preserve the audio records containing the information set forth above for a minimum period of 2 years.
        (5) In the event that a customer enrolls for service
    
from an alternative gas supplier via an Internet website, the alternative gas supplier shall obtain an electronically signed letter of agency in accordance with paragraph (1) of this subsection (c) and any customer information shall be protected in accordance with all applicable statutes and regulations. In addition, an alternative gas supplier shall provide the following when marketing via an Internet website:
            (A) The Internet enrollment website shall, at a
        
minimum, include:
                (i) a copy of the alternative gas supplier's
            
customer contract that clearly and conspicuously discloses all terms and conditions; and
                (ii) a conspicuous prompt for the customer to
            
print or save a copy of the contract.
            (B) Any electronic version of the contract shall
        
be identified by version number, in order to ensure the ability to verify the particular contract to which the customer assents.
            (C) Throughout the duration of the alternative
        
gas supplier's contract with a customer, the alternative gas supplier shall retain and, within 3 business days of the customer's request, provide to the customer an e-mail, paper, or facsimile of the terms and conditions of the numbered contract version to which the customer assents.
            (D) The alternative gas supplier shall provide a
        
mechanism by which both the submission and receipt of the electronic letter of agency are recorded by time and date.
            (E) After the customer completes the electronic
        
letter of agency, the alternative gas supplier shall disclose conspicuously through its website that the customer has been enrolled, and the alternative gas supplier shall provide the customer an enrollment confirmation number.
        (6) When a customer is solicited in person by the
    
alternative gas supplier's sales agent, the alternative gas supplier may only obtain the customer's authorization to change natural gas service through the method provided for in paragraph (2) of this subsection (c).
    Alternative gas suppliers must be in compliance with this subsection (c) within 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly.
    (d) Complaints may be filed with the Commission under this Section by a customer whose natural gas service has been provided by an alternative gas supplier in a manner not in compliance with subsection (c) of this Section. If, after notice and hearing, the Commission finds that an alternative gas supplier has violated subsection (c), then the Commission may in its discretion do any one or more of the following:
        (1) Require the violating alternative gas supplier to
    
refund the customer charges collected in excess of those that would have been charged by the customer's authorized natural gas provider.
        (2) Require the violating alternative gas supplier to
    
pay to the customer's authorized natural gas provider the amount the authorized natural gas provider would have collected for natural gas service. The Commission is authorized to reduce this payment by any amount already paid by the violating alternative gas supplier to the customer's authorized natural gas provider.
        (3) Require the violating alternative gas supplier to
    
pay a fine of up to $1,000 into the Public Utility Fund for each repeated and intentional violation of this Section.
        (4) Issue a cease and desist order.
        (5) For a pattern of violation of this Section or for
    
intentionally violating a cease and desist order, revoke the violating alternative gas supplier's certificate of service authority.
    (e) No alternative gas supplier shall:
        (1) enter into or employ any arrangements which have
    
the effect of preventing any customer from having access to the services of the gas utility in whose service area the customer is located;
        (2) charge customers for such access;
        (3) bill for goods or services not authorized by the
    
customer; or
        (4) bill for a disputed amount where the alternative
    
gas supplier has been provided notice of such dispute. The supplier shall attempt to resolve a dispute with the customer. When the dispute is not resolved to the customer's satisfaction, the supplier shall inform the customer of the right to file an informal complaint with the Commission and provide contact information. While the pending dispute is active at the Commission, an alternative gas supplier may bill only for the undisputed amount until the Commission has taken final action on the complaint.
    (f) An alternative gas supplier that is certified to serve residential or small commercial customers shall not:
        (1) deny service to a customer or group of customers
    
nor establish any differences as to prices, terms, conditions, services, products, facilities, or in any other respect, whereby such denial or differences are based upon race, gender, or income;
        (2) deny service based on locality, nor establish any
    
unreasonable difference as to prices, terms, conditions, services, products, or facilities as between localities;
        (3) include in any agreement a provision that
    
obligates a customer to the terms of the agreement if the customer (i) moves outside the State of Illinois; (ii) moves to a location without a transportation service program; or (iii) moves to a location where the customer will not require natural gas service, provided that nothing in this subsection precludes an alternative gas supplier from taking any action otherwise available to it to collect a debt that arises out of service provided to the customer before the customer moved; or
        (4) assign the agreement to any alternative natural
    
gas supplier, unless:
            (A) the supplier is an alternative gas supplier
        
certified by the Commission;
            (B) the rates, terms, and conditions of the
        
agreement being assigned do not change during the remainder of the time covered by the agreement;
            (C) the customer is given no less than 30 days
        
prior written notice of the assignment and contact information for the new supplier; and
            (D) the supplier assigning the contract provides
        
contact information that a customer can use to resolve a dispute.
    (g) An alternative gas supplier shall comply with the following requirements with respect to the marketing, offering, and provision of products or services:
        (1) Any marketing materials which make statements
    
concerning prices, terms, and conditions of service shall contain information that adequately discloses the prices, terms and conditions of the products or services.
        (2) Before any customer is switched from another
    
supplier, the alternative gas supplier shall give the customer written information that clearly and conspicuously discloses, in plain language, the prices, terms, and conditions of the products and services being offered and sold to the customer. Nothing in this paragraph (2) may be read to relieve an alternative gas supplier from the duties imposed on it by item (3) of subsection (c) of Section 2DDD of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
        (3) The alternative gas supplier shall provide to the
    
customer:
            (A) accurate, timely, and itemized billing
        
statements that describe the products and services provided to the customer and their prices and that specify the gas consumption amount and any service charges and taxes; provided that this item (g)(3)(A) does not apply to small commercial customers;
            (B) billing statements that clearly and
        
conspicuously discloses the name and contact information for the alternative gas supplier;
            (C) an additional statement, at least annually,
        
that adequately discloses the average monthly prices, and the terms and conditions, of the products and services sold to the customer; provided that this item (g)(3)(C) does not apply to small commercial customers;
            (D) refunds of any deposits with interest within
        
30 days after the date that the customer changes gas suppliers or discontinues service if the customer has satisfied all of his or her outstanding financial obligations to the alternative gas supplier at an interest rate set by the Commission which shall be the same as that required of gas utilities; and
            (E) refunds, in a timely fashion, of all
        
undisputed overpayments upon the oral or written request of the customer.
        (4) An alternative gas supplier and its sales agents
    
shall refrain from any direct marketing or soliciting to consumers on the gas utility's "Do Not Contact List", which the alternative gas supplier shall obtain on the 15th calendar day of the month from the gas utility in whose service area the consumer is provided with gas service. If the 15th calendar day is a non-business day, then the alternative gas supplier shall obtain the list on the next business day following the 15th calendar day of that month.
        (5) Early Termination.
            (A) Any agreement that contains an early
        
termination clause shall disclose the amount of the early termination fee, provided that any early termination fee or penalty shall not exceed $50 total, regardless of whether or not the agreement is a multiyear agreement.
            (B) In any agreement that contains an early
        
termination clause, an alternative gas supplier shall provide the customer the opportunity to terminate the agreement without any termination fee or penalty within 10 business days after the date of the first bill issued to the customer for products or services provided by the alternative gas supplier. The agreement shall disclose the opportunity and provide a toll-free phone number that the customer may call in order to terminate the agreement.
        (6) Within 2 business days after electronic receipt
    
of a customer switch from the alternative gas supplier and confirmation of eligibility, the gas utility shall provide the customer written notice confirming the switch. The gas utility shall not switch the service until 10 business days after the date on the notice to the customer.
        (7) The alternative gas supplier shall provide each
    
customer the opportunity to rescind its agreement without penalty within 10 business days after the date on the gas utility notice to the customer. The alternative gas supplier shall disclose all of the following:
            (A) that the gas utility shall send a notice
        
confirming the switch;
            (B) that from the date the utility issues the
        
notice confirming the switch, the customer shall have 10 business days to rescind the switch without penalty;
            (C) that the customer shall contact the gas
        
utility or the alternative gas supplier to rescind the switch; and
            (D) the contact information for the gas utility.
        The alternative gas supplier disclosure shall be
    
included in its sales solicitations, contracts, and all applicable sales verification scripts.
    (h) An alternative gas supplier may limit the overall size or availability of a service offering by specifying one or more of the following:
        (1) a maximum number of customers and maximum amount
    
of gas load to be served;
        (2) time period during which the offering will be
    
available; or
        (3) other comparable limitation, but not including
    
the geographic locations of customers within the area which the alternative gas supplier is certificated to serve.
    The alternative gas supplier shall file the terms and conditions of such service offering including the applicable limitations with the Commission prior to making the service offering available to customers.
    (i) Nothing in this Section shall be construed as preventing an alternative gas supplier that is an affiliate of, or which contracts with, (i) an industry or trade organization or association, (ii) a membership organization or association that exists for a purpose other than the purchase of gas, or (iii) another organization that meets criteria established in a rule adopted by the Commission from offering through the organization or association services at prices, terms and conditions that are available solely to the members of the organization or association.
(Source: P.A. 95-1051, eff. 4-10-09.)