AARP Illinois is spearheading an effort to turn up the heat on Chicago electric utility Commonwealth Edison Co. over its request for automatic rate increases that could cost Northern Illinois consumers almost $600 million.
ComEd has filed a request with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) for a $396 million delivery service rate increase and an additional $196 million surcharge for technology investments. ComEd is also pushing for the passage of House Bill 14, which would allow ComEd and other state utilities to circumvent the regulatory arm of the Illinois Commerce Commission and set automatic rate increases for delivery service.
The current regulatory process requires that utilities wait 11 months to decide rate cases, but ComEd is asking the state legislature to set rates according to a formula. The utility said it needs the automatic rate hikes to recoup a $2 billion investment in its electrical distribution system.
AARP Illinois has been joined by the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois, the Citizens Utility Board, and several community organizations in fighting the requested rate hikes and ComEd-backed legislation.
“ComEd has been consistently raising their delivery rates since 2006 – and citizens have seen and felt the effects in their wallets,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director, in a statement. “We need to act now because time is running out. Both rate cases must be decided by the Illinois Commerce Commission in May – and by the end of May we hope to put enough pressure on the legislature in Springfield to defeat the automatic rate increase legislation.”
Customers of ComEd Alternatives Not Immune to Delivery Rate Increases
Even though ComEd lost its electricity monopoly as a result of deregulation and other energy providers like Spark Energy have entered the market to provide lower electric rates, ComEd is still responsible for delivering electricity to homes and businesses. Therefore, rate increases can’t be avoided by switching to one of the other Chicago electricity providers that have entered the market. Because ComEd delivers all the electricity, every ratepayer would be affected by a delivery rate increase.
“House Bill 14 is not a problem only for ComEd customers in Chicago. This is an issue that involves everybody in Illinois, and we need everybody in the state to get involved,” Gallo said.
Members of AARP Illinois and other advocacy groups and organizations, as well as representatives from the Attorney General’s Office and the Citizens Utility Board, held a community meeting Monday with hundreds of residents from Chicago’s South Side. Residents were encouraged to contact the ICC and their elected representatives to defeat the requested rate hikes and House Bill 14.
“ComEd has asked the Illinois Commerce Commission for two rate increases worth nearly $600 million,” Gallo told WLS-TV. “It's the wrong thing to ask for at the worst possible time.”
“AARP, Groups, Set to Stop ComEd's Rate Increase Express,” AARP Illinois press release, March 28, 2011.
“AARP, Others Rally Against ComEd Rate Hike Request,” WLS-TV Chicago (ABC), March 28, 2011.