Illinois gov. vetoes smart grid bill

Springfield, Ill., September 13, 2011 — Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a smart grid bill allowing Commonwealth Edison to recoup smart grid upgrade costs from consumers.

Quinn had been vocal about vetoing the bill, and he followed through.

“It may be a dream come true for Commonwealth Edison,” said Quinn at a news conference to announce his decision. “But it’s a nightmare for Illinois consumers.”

Declaring that he was “protecting Illinois consumers from massive electric rate hikes,” Quinn shot down Senate Bill 1652, which raised rates in increments over the next ten years to pay for system upgrades, resulting in a $3 billion cash pool.

Quinn noted over a million residents and businesses experienced power outages this summer and stated that, with the bill, utilities wanted to “eliminate accountability."

“I will not support a bill that contains sweetheart deals for big utilities, which could leave struggling consumers to pick up the tab for costs such as lobbying fees and executive bonuses,” he said.

“This bill would have been devastating for Illinois consumers,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said at the same September 12, 2011 news conference. “At a time when people are already struggling to pay their bills, the utilities want to make an end run around the regulatory process and stick consumers with huge annual rate increases for unproven technology.”

The veto action was supported by AARP, the Citizens Utility Board, Citizen Action/Illinois, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center, according to Quinn.

ComEd issued a statement following the veto expressing their disappointment and vowing to show how the bill provides benefits to Illinois. The statement pointed out that SB 1652 went through 40 revisions to cater to consumer and regulatory input.

“Despite the rhetoric of the legislation opponents, SB1652 does not guarantee profits, will not result in automatic rates increases and does not strip the authority of the Illinois Commerce Commission,” the statement reads.

A few Illinois legislators, including State Rep. Mike Jacobs and State Rep. Kevin McCarthy, spoke to local newspapers about overriding the bill when state lawmakers returned in October.

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