Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said at a press conference recently in Chicago that he would veto the current version of a bill winding its way through the Illinois House that would allow state electric utilities to charge automatic rate increases to pay for upgrades to the electric grid.
According to Quinn, state electric utilities, such as Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd), need to share some of the financial responsibility for electric grid modernization. Quinn also said that the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) must maintain the power to review electric rates in order to protect consumers.
“They're big. They're behemoth. But they're not the people of Illinois,” Quinn said of the electric utilities. “We cannot allow energy policy in Illinois to be run by a company or two.”
Under the proposed legislation, state law would be amended to allow ComEd and other utilities to raise electric rates without ICC review in order to recoup the cost of infrastructure improvements to the state’s electric distribution grid.
ComEd said the proposed legislation would allow it to invest $2.6 billion in grid infrastructure during the next decade and, according to ComEd president Anne Pramaggiore, who testified at a House committee hearing last month, the legislation would result in improvements to the state’s economy and provide reliability increases for electric customers.
Quinn said that he supports a comprehensive energy plan that will stabilize electric rates, create jobs and encourage investment in renewable energy, but that he would veto legislation that stripped ICC of its review authority.
One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Democrat from Orland Park, said he would add an amendment to the bill requiring ICC to approve all electric rate increases.
“Illinois Gov Doesn't Back Automatic Utility Hikes,” Bloomberg Businessweek, May 9, 2011.