ComEd Pushes for Passage of Smart Grid Bill

Illinois Attorney General's office calls the bill devastating for consumers

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    ComEd is rushing to get a proposal passed that's designed for customers to pay more now with a promise to save later.

    The utility company is negotiating with lawmakers to pass a bill implementing a "smart-grid" throughout Illinois.

    The upgrades would replace meter readers with electronic devices uploading energy information to ComEd. It would allow customers to check their energy use to decide to go on a flat-rate plan or reduce how much energy they consume, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    The smart-grid switch would cost consumers more per month. A customer who pays $82 a month would see an extra $3 tacked on bills every month for 10 years.

    ComEd stressed customers could save $3 a month with the technology by taking control of their energy consumption.

    A new proposal emerged after months of tense negotiations. ComEd would earn a lower profit margin of 10.25 percent as opposed to anything above 10.6 percent. The Illinois Commerce Commission would have 8 1/2 months instead of 45 days to review a profit margin before it locked, the paper reports.

    Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office called the changes nothing more than window dressing.

    "This bill is still devastating for Illinois consumers," said Paul Gaynor, chief of the office's Public Interest Division. "It still guarantees exorbitant profits."

    Earlier this month, Quinn opposed the "smart grid" plan, urging for more investment in alternative energy, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    Quinn vowed to veto any measure he felt would shortchange consumers.

    The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn at the end of the month.