Retroactive Electric Rate Hikes Bill Goes To Governor

Utility giant Commonwealth Edison is on its way to securing a rate hike that will pay for upgrades to the state’s electric grid.

Legislators passed the measure in a hurry; it’s only the sixth piece of legislation to make it to the Governor since the session started in January.  Lawmakers rushed to pass it, so they’ll have time to override Pat Quinn’s expected veto before the session ends in May. Then the law could take effect in June.

The measure will allow ComEd and downstate utility Ameren to begin capturing revenues they’d hoped to already be collecting.

The General Assembly passed a law in 2011 that allows the companies to charge higher electric rates to pay for modernizing the electric grid. But ComEd complained state regulators didn’t interpret the law correctly, preventing them from increasing rates as much as they needed.

Representative Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, says THIS measure clarifies that law, and fixes it.

LANG: “That’s all this bill does, it does not raise electric rates, it does not change people’s lives.”

But consumer advocates say it does just that. From their view, legislators are coming to the rescue of one of the biggest forces at the state capitol.  ComEd reaches into its deep pockets to pay for lawmakers’ campaigns, and for a web of well-connected lobbyists.

– Amanda Vinicky

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