* A Senate committee voted unanimously this week to give ComEd what it wants…
Illinois legislators already gave Commonwealth Edison and Ameren the go-ahead to raise rates, in 2011. They passed a law over Governor Pat Quinn’s objections that changes the formula used to determine what the companies can charge. The new formula was supposed to get ComEd and Ameren more money they could use to pay for improvements to the electric grid.
But the utilities say it didn’t work as intended. They say regulators aren’t letting them charge what they need.
Now the companies are back , asking the legislature to pass another law, clarifying the old one. […]
Consumer watchdogs, like Scott Musser of AARP, say the new proposal is an end run around the courts and regulators.
* And now Peoples Gas wants in on the action…
Peoples-backed legislation introduced in the Illinois Senate Wednesday would permit the natural gas utility serving Chicago to boost delivery rates up to 5 percent annually over the next decade.
In return, Peoples would commit to a $1.2 billion infrastructure program centered on replacing the aging cast-iron pipes underneath city streets. Under the bill, that program would have to create at least 1,000 jobs at its peak. […]
As controversial as the “smart grid” law that allowed ComEd to hike rates annually was, this bill may be even more so.
“We have serious concerns with what we’ve seen,” said David Kolata, executive director of consumer watchdog Citizens Utility Board. “Say what you will about the smart grid law, at least it had some measures in it that really are beneficial for consumers. We don’t see anything like that in this bill. We certainly don’t want to see it become law.”
The smart grid, if done right, would be very good for Illinois. Upgrading natural gas infrastructure would also be good for the state. A modern, functional infrastructure is absolutely crucial to a healthy economy, and infrastructure ain’t free, but that price tag does look awful high for no apparent reason other than ComEd got a similar deal for doing a lot more.