Illinois House passes electricity rates increase

May 30, 2011

by Sean Crawford

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The Illinois House approved a plan Monday to upgrade the state's power grid that would also result in higher electric bills.

Long negotiations resulted in various changes to the measure as time has gone on, but one thing is for sure: Commonwealth Edison customers and a majority of those served by Ameren will pay more. The utilities estimate customers will pay about $3 a month more, with the promise of eventual savings down the road.

The money would be used to improve infrastructure and help create a "smart grid," which is touted as a more efficient system. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orland Park, said it's an idea whose time has come.

"This is the time to make sure our state is in a position to attract jobs of the future and have a grid ready to accept the inventions we know are on the way," McCarthy said.

But not everyone is sold on the need. Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, said it will hit constituents in the pocketbook.

"At a time when people are sitting at their kitchen tables trying to figure out how to make ends meet," Flowers said.

Both Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn oppose the plan as well. While it passed the House, the measure failed to get the super-majority support it would need to override a veto from the governor, which could doom the plan.