ComEd rate hike approved

May 24, 2011

Associated Press

Illinois regulators say Commonwealth Edison can raise its electric rates by $156 million. The Chicago Tribune reports the increase will cost customers $3.15 a month.

Utilities watchdog group Citizens Utility Board said Tuesday it will appeal the increase. It says ComEd actually owes consumers a $40 million rate cut. CUB also says summer is the worst time to increase rates because people will use air conditioning more often.

In a statement, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she was “extremely disappointed" the ICC would approve the increase in this down economy.

"We not only opposed ComEd’s rate hike request, but presented evidence showing that ComEd’s current rates should be lowered instead of increased. The ICC’s decision today clearly demonstrates why state legislators should reject ComEd’s proposal gutting the regulatory process and guaranteeing that consumers pay increasingly higher bills every year, so ComEd can lock in double-digit profits for the next decade,” the statement said.

ComEd originally requested an increase of nearly $400 million. Much of that would have gone to new technology. The company is seeking legislative permission to raise rates for that technology upgrade.

Plans to pay for new technology by raising Illinois electric rates are moving closer to reality. The lawmaker leading negotiations said Tuesday that he believes the bill will satisfy all parties. Democratic Rep. Kevin McCarthy says it should have enough support to pass the House. 

Meanwhile, the CUB says the latest version resolves some concerns but still leaves questions about profits and performance standards. Illinois power companies want to install new technology that could reduce energy consumption. They're seekinga rate increase to cover the cost. 

The latest proposal would limit the increase to 2.5 percent a year for the first three years. The legislation would expire after six years. Utilities would be allowed a 10.25 percent profit margin.