Public Interest Group Critical of ComEd’s $199 Million Rate Hike Request

An Illinois public interest advocate is blasting ComEd’s nearly $200 million rate increase request. 

In a filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), the utility giant requested the funds they said were needed in order to cover improvements for customers and to support its clean energy transition.

“As we bring more renewable energy like wind and solar onto the power grid to support the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, we must enhance our infrastructure to safely integrate these resources and ensure the more than 9 million people we serve can continue to count on reliable and affordable energy,” said ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones in a statement.

Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) notes if approved, ComEd will have raised delivery rates by $960 million since 2012, which means customers will be paying 49% more for delivery service than before the start of the formula rates process and ensures ComEd would make a guaranteed $825 million in profits in 2023.

“As the cost of energy rises and consumers deal with the worst inflation in decades, ComEd is rewarding itself with rate hikes and massive profits off of its unaccountable spending,” said Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr. “Unfortunately the Illinois General Assembly whiffed when it had the chance to pass meaningful utility reform in 2021.”

Scarr said the 2021 energy bill did not end formula rates as Gov. J.B. Pritzker originally proposed, but actually extended a portion of the current formula rate beyond its original 2022 end date and will allow the utility to sidestep the ICC.

On Tuesday, Pritzker was asked about the lack of action regarding utility bills by Illinois lawmakers during the last legislative session.

“Actually that is not true at all, we in fact did quite a lot to limit the upward trajectory of people’s bills,” said Pritzker. “Remember that maintaining our nuclear fleet, making sure we are enhancing our solar and wind energy production in the state, those all work to help us keep people’s electric bills down.”

When talk of corruption in Illinois arises, ComEd is part of the conversation. In 2016, the utility’s parent company, Exelon, secured large subsidies from the General Assembly for two of its nuclear power plants after dishing out contracts and jobs to allies of then-House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago. ComEd later admitted the wrongdoing in a deferred prosecution agreement and paid a $200 million fine. 

Indictments followed for two ComEd executives and consultants, Madigan’s chief of staff and later Madigan himself. Madigan, who faces a total of 22 federal counts including racketeering, bribery and extortion, has pleaded not guilty. 

A recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune also was highly critical of the rate hike considering ComEd’s past.

“If ComEd thinks it’s time to move on from that devastating scandal, well, it isn’t,” the editorial said. “That ignominious chapter in ComEd’s history gave Illinoisans many reasons to mistrust the utility. Along with the brides, there was ComEd’s successful lobbying bid for legislation in 2013 that effectively allowed the utility to sidestep the ICC.”

The proposed rate hike would raise average bills by $2.20 a month, but ComEd added that offsets and decreases due to a reduction in energy capacity costs would result in lower bills by next year.  

“ComEd sold formula rates as necessary to improve reliability and modernize the grid,” said Scarr. “Eleven years and almost $8 billion later, ComEd is still spinning the same old story. At some point, policymakers need to start holding them accountable.”

***Report Courtesy of the Illinois Radio Network***

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