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815 ILCS 505/2DDD

    (815 ILCS 505/2DDD)
    Sec. 2DDD. Alternative gas suppliers.
    (a) Definitions.
        (1) "Alternative gas supplier" has the same meaning
    
as in Section 19-105 of the Public Utilities Act.
        (2) "Gas utility" has the same meaning as in Section
    
19-105 of the Public Utilities Act.
    (b) It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of Section 2 of this Act for any person to violate any provision of this Section.
    (c) Solicitation.
        (1) An alternative gas supplier shall not utilize the
    
name of a public utility in any manner that is deceptive or misleading, including, but not limited to, implying or otherwise leading a customer to believe that an alternative gas supplier is soliciting on behalf of or is an agent of a utility. An alternative gas supplier shall not utilize the name, or any other identifying insignia, graphics, or wording, that has been used at any time to represent a public utility company or its services or to identify, label, or define any of its natural gas supply offers and shall not misrepresent the affiliation of any alternative supplier with the gas utility, governmental bodies, or consumer groups.
        (2) If any sales solicitation, agreement, contract,
    
or verification is translated into another language and provided to a customer, all of the documents must be provided to the customer in that other language.
        (2.3) An alternative gas supplier shall state that it
    
represents an independent seller of gas certified by the Illinois Commerce Commission and that he or she is not employed by, representing, endorsed by, or acting on behalf of a utility, or a utility program.
        (2.5) All in-person and telephone solicitations shall
    
be conducted in, translated into, and provided in a language in which the consumer subject to the marketing or solicitation is able to understand and communicate. An alternative gas supplier shall terminate a solicitation if the consumer subject to the marketing or communication is unable to understand and communicate in the language in which the marketing or solicitation is being conducted. An alternative gas supplier shall comply with Section 2N of this Act.
        (3) An alternative gas supplier shall clearly and
    
conspicuously disclose the following information to all customers:
            (A) the prices, terms, and conditions of the
        
products and services being sold to the customer;
            (B) where the solicitation occurs in person,
        
including through door-to-door solicitation, the salesperson's name;
            (C) the alternative gas supplier's contact
        
information, including the address, phone number, and website;
            (D) contact information for the Illinois Commerce
        
Commission, including the toll-free number for consumer complaints and website;
            (E) a statement of the customer's right to
        
rescind the offer within 10 business days of the date on the utility's notice confirming the customer's decision to switch suppliers, as well as phone numbers for the supplier and utility that the consumer may use to rescind the contract;
            (F) the amount of the early termination fee, if
        
any; and
            (G) the utility gas supply cost rates per therm
        
price available from the Illinois Commerce Commission website applicable at the time the alternative gas supplier is offering or selling the products or services to the customer and shall disclose the following statement:
            "(Name of the alternative gas supplier) is not
        
the same entity as your gas delivery company. You are not required to enroll with (name of alternative retail gas supplier). Beginning on (effective date), the utility gas supply cost rate per therm is (cost). The utility gas supply cost will expire on (expiration date). For more information go to the Illinois Commerce Commission's free website at www.icc.illinois.gov/ags/consumereducation.aspx.".
        (4) Except as provided in paragraph (5) of this
    
subsection (c), an alternative gas supplier shall send the information described in paragraph (3) of this subsection (c) to all customers within one business day of the authorization of a switch.
        (5) An alternative gas supplier engaging in
    
door-to-door solicitation of consumers shall provide the information described in paragraph (3) of this subsection (c) during all door-to-door solicitations that result in a customer deciding to switch their supplier.
    (d) Customer Authorization. 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. A 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. 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. Each disclosure made during the third-party verification must be made individually to obtain clear acknowledgment of each disclosure. The alternative gas supplier must be in a location where he or she cannot hear the customer while the third-party verification is conducted. The alternative gas supplier shall not contact the customer after the third-party verification for a period of 24 hours unless the customer initiates the contact.
        (3) The alternative gas supplier has obtained the
    
customer's electronic authorization to change natural gas service via telephone. Such authorization must elicit the information in paragraph (2)(A) through (F) of this subsection (d). Alternative gas suppliers electing to confirm sales electronically 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 (d) and any customer information shall be protected in accordance with all applicable statutes and rules. 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, which 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 (d).
    Alternative gas suppliers must be in compliance with the provisions of this subsection (d) within 90 days after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 95th General Assembly.
    (e) Early Termination.
        (1) Beginning January 1, 2020, consumers shall have
    
the right to terminate their contract with an alternative gas supplier at any time without any termination fees or penalties.
        (2) 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.
    (f) 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 to the customer all of the following:
        (1) that the gas utility shall send a notice
    
confirming the switch;
        (2) that from the date the utility issues the notice
    
confirming the switch, the customer shall have 10 business days before the switch will become effective;
        (3) that the customer may contact the gas utility or
    
the alternative gas supplier to rescind the switch within 10 business days; and
        (4) the contact information for the gas utility and
    
the alternative gas supplier.
    The alternative gas supplier disclosure shall be included in its sales solicitations, contracts, and all applicable sales verification scripts.
        (f-5)(1) Beginning January 1, 2020, an alternative
    
gas supplier shall not sell or offer to sell any products or services to a consumer pursuant to a contract in which the contract automatically renews, unless an alternative gas supplier provides to the consumer at the outset of the offer, in addition to other disclosures required by law, a separate written statement titled "Automatic Contract Renewal" that clearly and conspicuously discloses in bold lettering in at least 12-point font the terms and conditions of the automatic contract renewal provision, including: (i) the estimated bill cycle on which the initial contract term expires and a statement that it could be later based on when the utility accepts the initial enrollment; (ii) the estimated bill cycle on which the new contract term begins and a statement that it will immediately follow the last billing cycle of the current term; (iii) the procedure to terminate the contract before the new contract term applies; and (iv) the cancellation procedure. If the alternative gas supplier sells or offers to sell the products or services to a consumer during an in-person solicitation or telemarketing solicitation, the disclosures described in this paragraph (1) shall also be made to the consumer verbally during the solicitation. Nothing in this paragraph (1) shall be construed to apply to contracts entered into before January 1, 2020.
        (2) At least 30 days before, but not more than 60
    
days prior, to the end of the initial contract term, in any and all contracts that automatically renew after the initial term, the alternative gas supplier shall send, in addition to other disclosures required by law, a separate written notice of the contract renewal to the consumer that clearly and conspicuously discloses the following:
            (A) a statement printed or visible from the
        
outside of the envelope or in the subject line of the email, if the customer has agreed to receive official documents by email, that states "Contract Renewal Notice";
            (B) a statement in bold lettering, in at least
        
12-point font, that the contract will automatically renew unless the customer cancels it;
            (C) the billing cycle in which service under the
        
current term will expire;
            (D) the billing cycle in which service under the
        
new term will begin;
            (E) the process and options available to the
        
consumer to reject the new contract terms;
            (F) the cancellation process if the consumer's
        
contract automatically renews before the consumer rejects the new contract terms;
            (G) the terms and conditions of the new contract
        
term;
            (H) for a fixed rate or flat bill contract, a
        
side-by-side comparison of the current fixed rate or flat bill to the new fixed rate or flat bill; for a variable rate contract or time-of-use product in which the first month's renewal price can be determined, a side-by-side comparison of the current price and the price for the first month of the new variable or time-of-use price; or for a variable or time-of-use contract based on a publicly available index, a side-by-side comparison of the current formula and the new formula; and
            (I) the phone number and email address to submit
        
a consumer inquiry or complaint to the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Office of the Attorney General.
        (3) An alternative gas supplier shall not
    
automatically renew a consumer's enrollment after the current term of the contract expires when the current term of the contract provides that the consumer will be charged a fixed rate and the renewed contract provides that the consumer will be charged a variable rate, unless: (i) the alternative gas supplier complies with paragraphs (1) and (2); and (ii) the customer expressly consents to the contract renewal in writing or by electronic signature at least 30 days, but no more than 60 days, before the contract expires.
        (4) An alternative gas supplier shall not submit a
    
change to a customer's gas service provider in violation of Section 19-116 of the Public Utilities Act.
    (g) The provisions of this Section shall apply only to alternative gas suppliers serving or seeking to serve residential and small commercial customers and only to the extent such alternative gas suppliers provide services to residential and small commercial customers.
(Source: P.A. 101-590, eff. 1-1-20.)