By Alex Keefe | Sep. 12, 2011
“Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has shot down legislation that would have made it easier for the state’s two largest electric utilities to raise rates in order to make improvements to the power grid.
“It may be a dream come true for Commonwealth Edison, but it’s a nightmare for consumers in Illinois,” Quinn said before vetoing the bill.
Quinn dismissed the bill as a power company profit-grab that would fund questionable technological improvements to the state’s power grid.
The bill would allow ComEd, which provides power to 70 percent of Illinoisians, to go around state regulators and hike electric rates in order to pay for improvements to its grid.
The bill passed by the General Assembly in May would allow rate hikes to go into effect immediately. State regulators would be able to scale back a rate increase if they later found it to be too high, but that could only happen after the new, higher rates went into effect. Utilities currently must go through a nearly year-long process before a rate hike goes into effect.
ComEd has said the upgrades are necessary in order to save consumers money in the long-term and to get customers back online more quickly after power outages. The company estimates that a so-called “smart grid” system would have kept the lights on for an additional 100,000 to 175,000 customers who lost power when strong thunderstorms walloped northern Illinois in July, ultimately knocking out power to more than 850,000 people.
State Rep. McCarthy, D-Orland Park, said long-term savings would outweigh the costs.
“Pilot projects that have been hailed across the country have proven that the people are able to save more money than the cost increase would be,” McCarthy said. “And i think that will prove true in Illinois as well. I think our consumers here deserve the opportunity.”
McCarthy said he does think there will be enough votes to override the governor’s veto. …”
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