Two months after it passed the General Assembly, a bill has finally been sent to the governor that gives electric utilities, including Ameren, two additional years to recover costs of upgrading delivery systems.
The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Bruce Rauner who has until early April to decide whether to sign or veto the bill that provides rate increases to Ameren and Commonwealth Edison for installing smart-grid technology.
Rauner’s office issued a statement Tuesday saying only that the bill is under review.
The bill extends until 2019 a law that allows the two utilities to raise rates according to a formula. An original version of the bill called for the legislation to expire in 2017 which would have required the utilities to make a case for why it should be continued.
* Vinicky wrote about this yesterday…
This is the first bill to reach Rauner, who has never before held elected office, and it’s hard to tell what he might do with it. Proponents of the measure say an updated, high-tech “smart grid” will make the state more attractive to businesses. Utilities ComEd and Ameren are also powerful lobbies. But a new governor — particular one who has advocated for lowering taxes — may also not want the first piece of legislation he signs into law to be one that consumers could view as an electric rate hike.
Not to mention the potential legal issues, given the measure’s carryover from the 98th General Assembly to the 99th.
“It’s pretty much unprecedented, the situation that we’re in now. I think it’s very much a legal gray area. Maybe even a dark gray area,” says Citizens Utility Board director David Kolata. He says that CUB may consider legal action should Rauner sign the extension into law.
That most certainly does pose an interesting question. Can a governor sign a bill that was passed during a previous General Assembly under a previous governor?
Community leaders have added their voices to the debate over the future of the nuclear power station in Clinton and two sister plants which face the risk of closure according to their owner, Exelon Nuclear.
Clinton Mayor Carolyn Peters joined the mayors of Morris, Oregon, East Moline, Braceville and Marseilles in letters sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner and top legislators like House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, stressing the importance of the plants to their cities and towns.
In their letter to Rauner, they warn of the economic fallout that would follow the closure of Clinton or the other plants in Ogle County and Rock Island.
“Illinois nuclear facilities provide thousands of good jobs; the kind of jobs you can support a family on…,” the mayors say in a letter dated Feb. 4. “Part of the upcoming debate in Springfield should focus on what these plants mean to their host communities. From our firsthand perspective, we can tell you that Illinois’ nuclear facilities are essential to helping our communities thrive.”
There’s no doubt that these are good jobs. There’s also no doubt that those communities depend on the taxes generated by the nuke plants.
But the question is whether the GA ought to be stepping in here. I’m not convinced either way yet.