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*** UPDATED x1 *** Quinn touts his pro-consumer bonafides as he makes a questionable hiring move

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* The governor toured Downstate Illinois yesterday to pump up public support for his veto of the ComEd/Ameren “Smart Grid” bill. He didn’t focus much on the Smart Grid, however

Gov. Pat Quinn on Thursday urged lawmakers not to override his veto of legislation that proponents say will modernize the state’s energy infrastructure through rate hikes and a more streamlined regulatory process.

With Ameren Illinois’ corporate headquarters in Peoria serving as a backdrop, Quinn said, “This is a fight” during the first of four public downstate stops to push back against any attempt to override his Sept. 12 veto of SB1652.

Proponents say the legislation institutes modest rate increases to build a better, “smart grid” system for power distribution.

“We have to make sure to get the word out for those who represent the people of central Illinois that if they override the veto, they are voting for an automatic rate increase for Ameren and for Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison,” Quinn added. “That is not good.”


Gov. Pat Quinn visited City Hall Thursday afternoon to stand with metro-east mayors in an effort to protect consumers from what he called potentially massive electric rate hikes.

Quinn said that he vetoed a bill earlier this year that he said gives unprecedented advantages to Ameren and other state utilities to raising rates at a time when consumers are struggling to make ends meet.

“It was a bad bill,” Quinn said. “It was bad for consumers, it was bad for businesses and it was bad for government. It was bad for the people of Illinois.”

* But a move by Quinn the other day has raised some Statehouse eyebrows

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday replaced the head of the independent Illinois Power Agency, which has saved consumers an estimated $1.6 billion on electric rates since 2009, with a retired 35-year veteran of Commonwealth Edison.

Quinn’s appointment of Arlene Juracek, which must be confirmed by the Illinois Senate, drew fire from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

“We have concerns about this appointment,'’ said Paul Gaynor, a spokesman for Madigan.

Gaynor said Juracek played a key role in an electricity auction in 2006 that caused some consumers’ rates to jump two to three times and ultimately resulted in a settlement of about $1 billion repaid to consumers, as well as the creation of the power agency to purchase electricity at the cheapest rates available.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has tried through legislation to have the IPA removed from Quinn’s oversight and moved to the Illinois Ethics Commission, but Quinn vetoed the plan. This issue could be resurrected in the coming veto session.

You should really go read the whole thing. This is a curious appointment, to say the least. The governor’s office claims their hands are tied by state law to the point where only a tiny number of people are qualified for the job, but putting a retired ComEd exec in charge of negotiating power prices with her former employer is more than a bit odd - especially when she still owns Exelon stock.

Nobody believes that Gov. Quinn has all of a sudden sold his soul to ComEd. If that happened, the ground would be getting mighty cold from Hell freezing over. The question here is about his judgement. And, as I pointed out to subscribers this morning, just imagine the uproar if Rod Blagojevich had hired a ComEd retiree to negotiate rates with her old boss.

*** UPDATE *** From Crain’s

Commonwealth Edison Co. has extolled the support of Illinois businesses in its bid to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the electricity rate hike bill. But while several companies that stand to benefit if the bill becomes law are pushing for the override, the largest commercial power users in the state are firmly against it and support the veto.

They are represented by a consortium of two dozen companies that calls itself the Illinois Industrial Energy Consumers and includes huge Illinois employers like Peoria-based Caterpillar Inc., North Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories Inc., Chicago-based steelmaker A. Finkl & Sons Co. and Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co.

Greg Webb, ADM’s vice-president for state governmental relations, stood beside Mr. Quinn on Thursday as the governor was in Decatur as part of his barnstorming tour of Downstate to build support for sustaining his veto of the measure, SB1652.

“ADM, like other employers in Illinois, relies on competitively priced, reliably delivered electricity in order to operate,” Mr. Webb said. “SB1652, unfortunately, does not deliver on either of those counts. Its reliability provisions are not strong enough, and its rate provisions could very well lead to Illinois businesses paying higher rates than in neighboring states without commensurate benefits.”

posted by Rich Miller
Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:17 am


  1. This is a strange appointment. I can’t help but wonder if this is part of some mega-deal involving the “smart grid” legislation.

    Comment by Going nuclear Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:31 am

  2. If Blago would have done this there would have been a matching contribution in the pipeline–easy to understand and explain.

    Comment by Madame Defarge Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:37 am

  3. How much ComEd stock does this person own? I’ll bet it’s more than $1.0 million. She was pretty senior, and after 34 years probably had a huge block of stock.

    Comment by anon Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:38 am

  4. –…putting a retired ComEd exec in charge of negotiating power prices with her former employer is more than a bit odd - especially when she still owns Exelon stock. –

    It’s a clear conflict. Every action she took would be suspect. The universe of qualified individuals can’t be that small.

    Comment by wordslinger Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:43 am

  5. It is curious from a guy who has somewhat ignored technical qualifications in other appointments. However, I happen to know Juracek, as bright, independent-thinking, willing to build bridges, and willing to speak her mind. She just might be the right person for this role.

    Comment by walkinfool Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:43 am

  6. Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

    Comment by Hattie Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 10:49 am

  7. ==Nobody believes that Gov. Quinn has all of a sudden sold his soul to ComEd.==

    Not if he’d already sold it, which would explain a lot.

    ==The universe of qualified individuals can’t be that small.==

    If you change that to “smart enough to do the job and willing to throw in with this administration,” the universe might be smaller than you think.

    Comment by JustMe Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 11:20 am

  8. Yeah I’m mean why would this be questionable. Quinn was such a straight shooter about the tax hike, the death penalty, union donations and endorsement for a jobs promise. It’s easy to be a straight shooter from the outside Pat but given the gov job he has lied and lied and lied. He has become as shady as Blago.

    Comment by Fed up Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 11:42 am

  9. Just baffled by this…maybe things are not going well with the overide of 1652 and ComEd made it clear that they would go away if one of their own albeit former higher ups got the nod…Fed Up: you know that Pat is no Blago…

    Comment by Loop Lady Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 11:51 am

  10. I’m a little tired of Quinn’s phony baloney reformer/consumer bit. I don’t know what his angle is on everything, but I’m certain, and have good reason to believe from others that it’s not pure. I hope people start to recognize this soon.

    Comment by Thoughts... Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 12:11 pm

  11. just to keep this in perspective here are the requirements for IPA Director:

    (20 ILCS 5/5‑222)
    Sec. 5‑222. Director of the Illinois Power Agency. The Director of the Illinois Power Agency must have at least 15 years of combined experience in the electric industry, electricity policy, or electricity markets and must possess: (i) general knowledge of the responsibilities of being a director, (ii) managerial experience, and (iii) an advanced degree in economics, risk management, law, business, engineering, or a related field.
    (Source: P.A. 95‑481, eff. 8‑28‑07.)

    Comment by Lincoln's Penny Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 1:09 pm

  12. Sigh… He is truly his own worste enemy.

    Comment by Dave V Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 1:44 pm

  13. Had an opportunity to talk to some ComEd techies very recently and it seemed clear that the tech types have been onboard with the Smart Grid for a while, but it’s been the bean counters who haven’t been able to get their tiny little brains around all the benefits.

    Nobody would say it, but it seemed clear that the bean counters are (were) in the lead on the issue and they looked at the entire Smart Grid issue as a way to piggyback/push rate increases through the system (Sort of like the old “Never let a good crisis go to waste” type of situation).

    But in the conversations, picked up on a key point - “Will this stop and/or reduce power outages?” No, unlikely. But it will enable the utility providers easier and faster methods to identify, and remedy the power loss situations.

    What strikes me as most interesting is that Com Ed / Excelon is nowhere near on the lead on this one. There’s a whole lot of places out there that are way ahead of us on the curve of addressing this.

    We’re actually well behind the technology curve on this one.

    Comment by Judgment Day Friday, Oct 7, 11 @ 4:03 pm

  14. This nomination is perfectly captured by your headline in the paid version of Cap Fax Rich “This is what hypocrisy looks like”. Does anyone working on the 16th floor realize that the IPA was created because of the yeoman’s work of Ms Juraseck to push through the reverse auction that sent rates up 400% for some customers in Ameren’s territory? Does the Gov think people can’t remember back to 2006? That was only 5 years ago! Amazingly poor judgement by Quinn. She won’t get confirmed, simple as that. It’s an easy way for the Senate, who’s at war with Quinn on the gambling bill, to publicly embarrass him.

    Comment by Silly Man Saturday, Oct 8, 11 @ 12:53 pm

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