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Quinn move backfires on governor

Friday, Oct 21, 2011

* Remember Arlene Juracek, the retired ComEd executive whom Gov. Pat Quinn recently appointed to run the Illinois Power Agency? Quinn ousted Director Mark Pruitt to appoint Juracek, who rose to the rank of ComEd vice president. The governor insisted there was no conflict of interest, even though former ComEd veep Juracek still owns a significant amount of Exelon stock. Exelon is ComEd’s parent company. Juracek’s new job involves negotiating power contracts on behalf of consumers, meaning she’ll be sitting across the table from Exelon execs.

Quinn wanted Director Pruitt out because he was resisting signing long term contracts with alternative power companies, like wind and solar. Pruitt did get the ball rolling on some wind power contracts, but in one of her first moves in office, Juracek reversed Pruitt’s decision

In an unexpected move, she reversed Mr. Pruitt’s plan to solicit offers for 20-year contracts for wind farm developers — a priority of Mr. Quinn, who sees green jobs growth as a major part of his economic development agenda for the state. Instead, she plans to solicit offers for one-year contracts only, which the wind industry has complained won’t foster development of new wind farms in the state because developers can’t get financing unless they have long-term sales contracts.

Guess who opposed former Director Pruitt’s move? ComEd and Exelon, of course. This is a home run for Juracek’s former boss.

* Next up, FutureGen

In addition, Ms. Juracek reversed Mr. Pruitt’s plan to solicit bids for power from “clean-coal” plants, a provision aimed at allowing the developers of the proposed FutureGen 2.0 project to finance the part of the project not subsidized by the U.S. Department of Energy. FutureGen is a top priority of Mr. Quinn.

Exelon and ComEd oppose these clean coal projects, as do other utilities. Another home run.

* And then there’s solar

And, finally, Ms. Juracek removed Mr. Pruitt’s proposal to solicit bids from small-scale solar facilities, a priority of environmentalists’ and also supported by Mr. Quinn. She said in her report that she was committed to including the solar bids in future procurement plans, but would like the idea to be developed more in workshops with interested parties.

Once again, Gov. Quinn supported bids from solar companies, but ComEd and Exelon opposed it.

That’s three ComEd/Exelon home runs in just two weeks. I asked the governor’s office about this mess last night. So far, no word on their thinking. They didn’t respond at all to Crain’s. I’ll let you know if they come up with something later today.

* It looks like Lisa Madigan was right Here’s what the attorney general’s office said when Quinn announced the Juracek appointment

The attorney general’s office says it has “concerns” about Juracek’s appointment. “Ms. Juracek was with ComEd for 15 years and championed the so-called `reverse auction’ that would have been devastating for consumers,” a spokeswoman for the agency said. “In fact, the IPA was formed in reaction to the reverse auction and ComEd agreed to return $1 billion to customers.” […]

According to the attorney general, there are “many questions that must be answered, including any financial interests or other connections [Juracek] may have with ComEd or Exelon.” Juracek confirmed she still owns Exelon stock. She said she has no plans to sell the stock but would place the stock “in a box and not do anything with it as long as I’m on the job.”

Yeah. Great. She’ll hold onto the stock, which will likely rise on this latest news.

* Juracek still has to be confirmed by the Senate. The governor also vetoed a bill this year which would’ve taken away his authority over the IPA. That bill was backed by House Speaker Michael Madigan. Expect an override and possibly a rocky confirmation procedure.

…Adding… This is what Acting Director Juracek told Crain’s a couple of weeks ago

“Whatever happens going forward,” Ms. Juracek said, “the (procurement) process is so transparent. It’s virtually impossible for the director of the IPA to make a unilateral decision because of that transparency.”

As a friend of mine just pointed out, it looks like she managed to find the window between “possible” and “virtually impossible.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


40 Comments
  1. - Downstate Illinois - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:31 am:

    Rich, how many times have you used, and will get to use the words “Quinn move backfires on governor” during this term?

    Still it looks like Juracek is just trying to reverse the devastation she did on consumers with the reverse auction.

    Getting rid of long term contracts for overpriced “green” energy helps consumers keep the green where it belongs - in their pockets.


  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:32 am:

    Not sure who looks dumber - Gov. Quinn for getting the PR mess and nothing he wanted on energy or Juracek for biting the hand that feeds you even before she was confirmed. Just wow.


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:33 am:

    DI, sustainable energy is part of her mandate. Anon, she may have bitten Quinn’s hand, but she didn’t bite the hand that fed her for so long, and continues to do so.


  4. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:37 am:

    This is so weird. Why did Quinn appoint her?

    She’s a ComEd lifer. She owns ComEd stock. She’s a walking, talking conflict of interest.

    Senate, vote “no” on confirmation.


  5. - Sue - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:39 am:

    Rich- when are you going to concede that Quinn has the midas touch but only in reverse- everything he touches turns to shi-.One lasting aspect of the Blago dissaster is that he left us with the accidental governor whose only attribute is he is a nice guy who trys his best


  6. - Charlie Ramp - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:42 am:

    Great reporting by Crain’s and their reporter, Steve Daniels.


  7. - Lincoln's Penny - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:52 am:

    wow, you would think she would at least tread lightly until the confirmation vote.


  8. - tubbfan - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 9:59 am:

    Replacement of the culture of corruption in the Governor’s office with the culture of ineptitude is now complete!


  9. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:01 am:

    I am curious as to why she telegraphed her intentions before being confirmed? Especially given said intentions. Did she think no one would notice? Did she think she was bullet proof.


  10. - so... - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:04 am:

    ==DI, sustainable energy is part of her mandate. Anon, she may have bitten Quinn’s hand, but she didn’t bite the hand that fed her for so long, and continues to do so. ==

    Not to quibble Rich, but nuclear energy is pretty sustainable.

    The fact that it’s Exelon and ComEd that profit from nuclear energy is purely coincidence.


  11. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:06 am:

    Nuclear energy is NOT sustainable. You can argue that it doesn’t have greenhouse emissions but you can’t argue that it’s sustainable.


  12. - Loop Lady - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:06 am:

    In a Word : UNBELEIVABLE

    Who in the name of God is advising Quinn these days ? Sponge Bob? Beavis and Butthead? What? Who?
    Huh?

    I am almost speechless, and for me that’s really saying something…


  13. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:07 am:

    Calm down, people, calm down. Doesn’t Guv Quinn tell us he has the peoples’ interest at heart? That he knows what’s best for the people?

    Move along, now, nothing to see here - it’s all been taken care of.


  14. - Borealis - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:10 am:

    BTW, her actions telegraph to anyone bothering to pay attention how arrogant and self serving ComEd
    grows it’s senior management.

    Good to know before her confirmation hearings and vote on 1652.


  15. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:20 am:

    (5 ILCS 420/3A‑35)
    Sec. 3A‑35. Conflicts of interests.
    (a) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a) of Section 50‑13 of the Illinois Procurement Code, it is unlawful for an appointed member of a board, commission, authority, or task force authorized or created by State law or by executive order of the Governor, the spouse of the appointee, or an immediate family member of the appointee living in the appointee’s residence to have or acquire a contract or have or acquire a direct pecuniary interest with the State that relates to the board, commission, authority, or task force of which he or she is an appointee during and for one year after the conclusion of the person’s term of office.

    This is from the ethics act. It appears to me it might actually be illegal for her to own stock of a company which the IPA regulates.


  16. - Anon - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:33 am:

    Ready, FIRE…aim?


  17. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:44 am:

    Anon, the law says “a direct pecuniary interest with the State.” Your objection is invalid.


  18. - Way Way Down Here - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:50 am:

    Mission accomplished. See that didn’t take long at all.


  19. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:50 am:

    Am I the only one who expects these actions by Juracek to only help her get confirmed more easily by the Senate?

    They passed the ComEd rate hikes, didn’t they?

    Kyle McCarter isn’t the only Illinoisan who questions whether our elected senators in Springfield care way more about ComEd/Exelon campaign cash than they do the public interest.


  20. - so... - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 10:57 am:

    ==Nuclear energy is NOT sustainable. You can argue that it doesn’t have greenhouse emissions but you can’t argue that it’s sustainable.==

    Ever heard of breeder reactors?


  21. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 11:13 am:

    ===Ever heard of breeder reactors?===

    Yeah, they breed accidents. lol


  22. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 11:22 am:

    Rich, even if she was barred from holding stock, which after reading the law again, I see how she’s not, is the appointee to the IPA exempt from sections of the Ethics Act? I seem to remember reading this somewhere.


  23. - King Louis XVI - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 11:27 am:

    –Who in the name of God is advising Quinn these days ? Sponge Bob? Beavis and Butthead? What? Who?
    Huh?–

    Like Blago, Quinn primarily advises himself, with unhelpful assists from his brother, Tom.

    They are suffocating Illinois with their unrelenting genius.


  24. - soccermom - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 11:40 am:

    Lou — you’re really comparing PQ to Rod? I think you’ve lost your head….


  25. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 11:45 am:

    soccermom, it’s not an illegitimate argument. And, frankly, it grows more legit with each passing day.


  26. - Anon - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 12:19 pm:

    Staff members of the Commerce Commission forfeit their employment if they own any type of regulated utility stock. Quinn’s power procurement officer can’t even meet the employment conditions to be a junior Commerce Commission staffer. - This is just another case where a top Quinn administration official is held to a lower standard than a rank-and file employee.


  27. - 618er - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 12:37 pm:

    I’m certainly not going to waste my lunch hour going back through the archives, but I seem to recall some commenters wondering what poor rich would have to report once the Blagojevich circus left town….


  28. - dupage dan - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 12:48 pm:

    To ignore/dismiss breeder reactors will condemn us to waiting for the sun to shine or the wind to blow before we nuke the morning coffee. Snark only partially intended.


  29. - walkinfool - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 12:59 pm:

    Not good. But at least it wasn’t a political appointment to achieve PQ’s stated policy goals.

    I cannot figure out what it was, other than a choice of one of the few persons legally qualified to do the job. It was PQ’s second choice after someone deemed not technically qualified.

    Perhaps the legal job requirements need a little adjustment. The Gov’s staff need more than that.


  30. - Cheswick - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 1:24 pm:

    Once you know Rowe
    He never let go


  31. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 1:26 pm:

    How true, Cheswick. How true.

    lol


  32. - ugh - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 2:18 pm:

    ==I’m certainly not going to waste my lunch hour going back through the archives, but I seem to recall some commenters wondering what poor rich would have to report once the Blagojevich circus left town…==

    The problem is they haven’t ALL left town! Most of them are still around, including Lavin who is the new ring leader.


  33. - soccermom - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 2:32 pm:

    Rich — There is no comparison between Rod and PQ. I cannot imagine two more different human beings, in style or substance. I’m not going to detail PQ’s shortcomings in this forum, but he shows up to work every day and he has a real interest in policy. Rod is a lazy sociopath.


  34. - Senator Clay Davis - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 2:38 pm:

    First of all, this isn’t about whether or not to use renewables. The utilities are required in Illinois to buy green power.

    But to those advocating for nukes: the problem facing the IPA (short vs long-term purchases) will apply even more so to new nuclear plants than wind farms. The wind companies need long-term cost certainty to build new plants, that’s what this debate is about. New nuclear plants, with a cost in the multiple billions will require even greater certainty.

    You can expect Exelon (and the coal companies) to be calling for long-term deals as soon as they want to build new plants too.


  35. - Newsclown - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 2:38 pm:

    Wait, I can’t type until I turn down the radio, it’s playing Britney Spears’ “Oops, I did it again!”

    …okay, that’s quieter now. Where was I. Oh, yeah:
    Quinn, did you make her appointment on Backwards Day or something???? You had better hope the senate gets you off the hook by not confirming her, so you can take another try at putting in someone who looks less like fodder for an episode of Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show”.

    What’s next; putting Typhoid Mary in charge of school lunch programs? Maybe Mike Stout in charge of the Ethics commission???


  36. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 3:04 pm:

    “But at least it wasn’t a political appointment to achieve PQ’s stated policy goals.”

    Actually walkingfool, it was precisely that if you read the stories on this. It just was a failed political appointment to achieve PQ’s stated policy goals. Or was that sarcasm?


  37. - Anonymous - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 3:06 pm:

    Clay Davis,

    Exelon has already said they have no intention to build a nuke plant anytime in the near future and certainly not in an unregulated state where they can’t put it in rate base. They expect a new nuke to cost between 15 and 30 BILLION. Ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.


  38. - Techboy - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 3:26 pm:

    Exelon isn’t the only player in the game: if Bill Gate’s new-design compact “TerraPower” nuclear plant venture passes tests, it could change the face of power generation, and that’s not hyperbole. The current nuke industry’s problems all stem from trying to adapt cold war era submarine reactor designs to be used for civilian power generation. The TerraPower Traveling wave design would be meltdown-proof and very clean and efficient to operate, about on the level of today’s natural gas “peaker plants”, the current darlings of companies like Excelon.


  39. - Anon - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 4:41 pm:

    This make sense to me - PQ had opposition from Madigan and the AG office with the first candidate that he was going to appoint to the IPA (whom had no direct connection with ComED), he has opposition with this appointment. Ms. Juracek goes against Quinn and possibly makes some friends with Madigan. Its all Illinois politics!


  40. - Bill - Friday, Oct 21, 11 @ 4:47 pm:

    What’s the big deal? The Illinois State Senate has been a wholly owned subsidiary of ComEd for years. She’ll be confirmed without a problem. Watch for the override. It won’t even be close. Money talks, my brethren.


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