Quinn Vetoes ComEd Rate Hike

Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday kept his promise and vetoed proposed smart-grid legislation from Commonwealth Edison that would raise utility rates.

Quinn scolded ComEd during a 10:30 a.m. press conference for not paying more attention to fundamentals, even calling the utility unreliable.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined Quinn to say ComEd's proposed $3 billion grid improvement plan would have been devastating for the state's consumers. Madigan called the bill "legalized pickpocketing."

AARP, representing residents on a fixed income, also praised the governor. A spokesman called it a "stupid grid" bill and said the legislation was nothing but rate-hike legislation.

But ComEd argues that updates to the utility's electrical grid would reduce the length of power outages and make it more competitive in attracting business.

"ComEd joins all the supporters of grid modernization, customer empowerment, job creation and economic development in expressing our disappointment in the Governor’s veto," the utility said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved the rate-hike measure after much negotiation. Since then, criticism has risen over whether the bill actually protects customers.

ComEd said Monday the smart-grid switch would not result in automatic rates increases. Still it could cost consumers more per month, and Quinn said that's unacceptable.

"We're the government of the people, and I don't think people are for this," Quinn said Monday. "I want to make it clear to the public that they should not be gouged ... by something they don't feel is providing better service."

A customer who pays $82 a month would see an extra $3 tacked on bills every month for 10 years, according to the plan. ComEd stressed customers could save $3 a month with the technology by taking control of their energy consumption.

"SB 1652 has undergone more than 40 major revisions based on input from legislators, consumer groups and other stakeholders," according to a ComEd statement. "This veto of SB 1652 puts at risk all the benefits and jobs that this consensus legislation offers."

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