Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a bill Sunday that would have reportedly allowed Illinois’ large electric utilities to enact an estimated $70 million rate hike.
“I cannot support legislation that puts the profits of big electric utilities ahead of the families and businesses of Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement. “A strong economy that creates jobs requires stable energy costs, but this bill sends Illinois in the wrong direction. We cannot allow big utilities to force automatic rate hikes on the people of Illinois by going around oversight authorities each and every time they do not get the decision they want."
Senate Bill 9 was pushed by utilities in response to Illinois Commerce Commission rulings last year that denied proposed rate hikes that weren’t needed for the utilities to make promised investments and would cost Illinois families and businesses too much, according to a press release from the Governor.
ComEd, however, said the bill would have gotten the Smart Grid program back on track, which planned to replace and refurbish thousands of miles of cable and replace thousands of utility poles on the grid, and allowed the company reduce power outages. The company also said the bill would have given customers more choice and control over their energy use and created thousands of much-needed jobs.
The rate hike proposed in the bill would be in addition to a $311 million rate hike ComEd proposed to the Illinois Commerce Commission last week, Quinn's press release stated.
This hike, combined with another one filed with the federal government, would amount to about $6 more per month for the average utility customer, according to the release.
“It is not healthy for big utilities to be able to continuously circumvent the well-established oversight of the Illinois Commerce Commission each and every time they do not receive the regulation decisions and rate hikes they desire,” Quinn said in his veto message. “This measure is another attempt to do just that.”
ComEd is urging members of the General Assembly to override the veto to get the grid modernization program back on track, the company said in a statement.