Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Ethics at issue with energy bill
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Ethics at issue with energy bill

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

* WBEZ on the reform angle of the evolving energy bill

In the House, state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, is carrying legislation to establish a path for ratepayers to win restitution if a utility company engages in criminal wrongdoing. In its deferred prosecution agreement, ComEd said its corrupt lobbying yielded legislative victories valued at more than $150 million for the company.

Her legislation also would do away with automatic rate increases for ComEd customers based on a preset formula. It would bar utilities like ComEd from billing ratepayers for charitable contributions or for legal fees tied to criminal investigations.

And Williams’ measure would establish a czar to oversee utility ethics compliance at the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utilities.

That czar would have access to a database that ComEd and other utilities would be required to log, showing “requests for anything of value” sought by public officials or their staffs. But those records of potential job or contract asks wouldn’t be directly accessible to the public under current language in Williams’ bill — something she said she’s willing to reconsider.

Her legislation also would prevent ComEd-hired lobbyists from subcontracting, which the company acknowledged in its deferred prosecution agreement as a way political friends of Madigan’s were funneled rewards. That practice, which evaded state lobbying disclosure rules, enabled ComEd lobbyists to hire Madigan associates as consultants, who did little to no work.

“It’s really a shame that we have to babysit the utilities in this way,” Williams told WBEZ. “But unfortunately, ComEd has shown us that they were really willing to make a mockery of the legislative process.”

* AARP Illinois, Illinois PIRG and the Environmental Law & Policy Center recently released a laundry lists of reforms they’d like to see…


    Make ComEd really pay for its $200 million settlement by taking it out of future revenues, in turn lowering customers’ bills
    Explore other ways to get money back for ComEd customers, as the General Assembly has done before


    End automatic “formula” rate hikes for ComEd and Ameren
    End “Rider QIP,” a mini-formula rate for gas utilities
    Commission an independent audit of ComEd’s grid
    Establish integrated grid planning for ComEd and Ameren
    Provide the Illinois Commerce Commission with increased resources and staffing to effectively carry out its mission


    End utility political giving
    No longer allow utilities to charge customers for charitable giving

* Related…

* Illinois lawmakers considering legislation that could hike ComEd bills less than a year after utility admitted multimillion-dollar bribery scheme: Since the federal prosecutors announced the bribery case last summer, ComEd has argued that even though the legislative process was tainted, consumers still benefited from its passage and no harm has been done to ratepayers. “It is a preposterous position,” [former Gov. Pat Quinn] said. “It’s OK to use bribery to ‘pass’ good laws? You can’t allow that. You ruin democracy that way.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 12:49 pm:

    I’m not sure this measure goes far enough to really address the crux of the issue which is criminal rent seeking from a utility and the fines from the federal government amount to little more than a slap on the wrist.

    If the goal is to disincentivize illegal conduct by a utility the penalty should be that that entity is no longer able to operate in the state with significant restrictions placed upon officers and executives of the company about what business practices they’re allowed to engage in within the State of Illinois going forward. It can be broadened by other companies, but maybe if you’re the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company that engages in blatant criminal activity you shouldn’t be allowed to be an officer or executive of any company doing business within the State of Illinois. This could probably be imposed with a million dollar penalty per year per instance. So, you know, if they really want to keep the band of criminals in charge they have to pay for that on an ongoing basis.

  2. - thisjustinagain - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 1:02 pm:

    “We had to corrupt the legislative process for consumer’s benefit” is like “we had to destroy the village in order to save it”. Complete and utter nonsense. If utilities are so concerned about consumers, stop overpaying the C-level execs at the top of the food chain, and lower the rates since you still have a monopoly on distribution of services to consumers, regardless of the “competition” from 3rd party providers using your distribution systems.

  3. - cover - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 1:16 pm:

    Whatever one might think of Pat Quinn, he’s the only Governor I can remember who actually tried to stand up to the utilities - only to be overridden by the General Assembly.

  4. - Ok - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 1:24 pm:

    So long as Rep. Williams’ bill doesn’t just apply to ComEd, it is a no-brainer. The folks at Nicor, Ameren, and People’s have been abusing the public process just as much as anyone.

  5. - Arnold - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    If you believe the environmentalists and CUB who supported the nuclear bailout and formula rates are now the utility watch dogs you probably also believed Lindsey Graham when he scolded Trump. Credit for the rebrand after their partner in legislation plead guilty.

    Candy has it right: If you plead guilty to corruption, that legislation should be repealed or not renewed, customers paid back the ill-gotten gains, and the entire leadership of both utilities retired. The Governor should appoint someone who will aggressively oversee the utilities to run the ICC. Anything short of that and it’s just more of the same.

  6. - Suburbanon - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    Dropping lobbying and charitable giving from utility rate base, and require extensive disclosure would be a huge step toward curtailing corruption. No more “free” money to throw around. It also is said how well meaning charities and not for profits are leveraged for political gain by utilities. Not sure if that is illegal but it sure is distasteful.

  7. - Arnold - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 2:33 pm:

    Yes but… you can’t curtail lobbying or political donations. Lobbying and donating are protected activities (thanks Citizens United!). Making shareholders pay for it would be nice but the money is all mixed in a blender at a utility. Cash comes in from the captive customers and leadership decides how to split out what they dividend up to the holding company. You need deeply experienced regulators (plural) who can unwind all that if you want the system to have credibility or to achieve what Suburbanon seeks (which has a ton of merit). The existing law has removed that ability from the ICC, as did Rauner’s purges. CEJA creating a ‘czar’ is a good way to get a headline and a bad way to actually regulate since it takes a rather large expert staff to stay in touch with utilities that have literally hundreds of people dedicated to perfecting utility economics.

  8. - Cluster - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 2:41 pm:

    Can they really prohibit subcontracting, even if it is specifically for utilities? Seems like a 1st Amendment issue. Also, there are tons of legitimate subcontracting arrangements in Springfield.

    Also, ending “utility political giving”? Once again, not sure how this is Kosher with the 1st Amendment.

  9. - Odysseus - Monday, Apr 19, 21 @ 4:19 pm:

    “Also, ending “utility political giving”? Once again, not sure how this is Kosher with the 1st Amendment.”

    Why wouldn’t it be kosher? Corporations have no legitimate political interests, only humans do.

TrackBack URI

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Question of the day
* Narrow US Supreme Court decision should have no impact on Illinois' foster care program
* It's just a bill
* Marjorie Taylor Greene heading to Eastern Bloc territory for fundraiser with Mary Miller
* Not exactly the A Team lining up against Sen. Duckworth
* Thousands of veterans won't be left out of Illinois vaccine lottery program after all
* "Outlier" Illinois trying to catch up with other states on equity-based higher ed funding
* Reeder: "We need to ask how to increase public safety and minimize police shootings"
* CPS alters its botched janitorial privatization plan
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...






Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller