(Chicago, IL) – September 12, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by Attorney General Lisa Madigan to witness his veto of a bill that would have allowed ComEd to develop an electricity producing “Smart Grid” financed by a guaranteed consumer and business rate hike.
“More than 1.5 million people and businesses have had to deal with power outages and services disruptions this summer,” Quinn said. “Now these same utilities are trying to change the rules to guarantee themselves annual rate increases and eliminate accountability.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 1652 sponsored by Democrats State Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) and State Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), aims to jump-start Smart Grid technology to replace Illinois’ aging electricity infrastructure, a problem the governor himself acknowledged as recently as May 9, 2011, by locking-in higher electricity rates to pay for the project.
Recent storms in the Chicago area exposed significant service shortcomings of that aging system when more than 1.5 million people suffered through lengthy and widespread outages.
The price tag of the locked-in profits was, however, too steep a price for both Quinn or Madigan.
“This bill would have been devastating for Illinois consumers,” Madigan said.
“At a time when people are already struggling to pay their bills, the utilities want to make an end run around the regulatory process and stick consumers with huge annual rate increases for unproven technology—all so they can guarantee their profits for the next decade.”
Today’s action was supported by AARP, the Citizens Utility Board, Citizen Action/Illinois, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, among other groups.
The legislature will likely attempt to override the governor’s veto. So Quinn and Madigan urged consumers to contact their legislators and convince them to uphold the veto. An override is considered by many Springfield observers as a real possibility.
Sensitive to the need to modernize the state’s creaky energy infrastructure, Quinn restated his support for reforms proposed by the Illinois Commerce Commission that move Illinois towards the goal of modernizing the electric grid, reforming the regulatory system and protecting rate payers.
House Bill 14, also sponsored by McCarthy, represents a good faith effort toward modernizing the grid, reforming our regulatory system, and protecting Illinois’ ratepayers, according to the governor.