Smart Grid, electric rate increase bill lands on Quinn's desk

But the Governor has promised to veto the measure

August 29, 2011

City Room and the Associated Press

(Flickr/Contemplative Imaging)
Power transmission lines in Crystal Lake, IL

Legislation to raise electric rates to help pay to modernize the state's power grid is on its way to the desk of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, despite his repeated pledges to veto it. 

The energy bill would raise electric rates as part of a $3 billion plan to give Commonwealth Edison and Ameren money for basic infrastructure and a modern Smart Grid. 

ComEd claims the Smart Grid technology will also allow consumers to monitor and reduce energy usage and will help the company respond more effectively to power outages. ComEd serves approximately 3.8 million customers in northern Illinois.

ComEd calls the measure "the most comprehensive electric utility-based job creation and capital investment program in generations", though Quinn claims it places too big of a burden on consumers.

Earlier this year, Quinn and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a joint statement urging the Illinois Senate to reject the measure before it became law.

"While Commonwealth Edison and Ameren talk about investment in Smart Grid, Senate Bill 1652 is clearly not just about investing in this technology," wrote Quinn and Madigan at the time. "This legislation locks in guaranteed, significant annual profits for the utility companies without real oversight by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC)."

According to the Governor's office, ComEd rates would increase by approximately $180 million – or 9 percent - every year for 10 years.

The bill's sponsors predicted Monday they could find enough votes to override Quinn if he follows through with his threat.

The bill was sent to the governor Monday, nearly three months after lawmakers passed it. Illinois Senate President John Cullerton used a legislative move to hold the bill to try to avoid an immediate veto from Quinn.