The Illinois Senate has approved a measure that will allow ComEd and Ameren Illinois to continue with initiatives to expand the state's smart grid with funding from automatic rate hikes by a 40-4 vote with two abstentions. The legislation previously passed the House in November, and has been sent to Gov. Pat Quinn to be signed into law.
The bill, if signed by Quinn, will give the utility companies an opportunity to continue projects modernizing the state's grid by extending tariffs for two more years. While the bill would allow taxpayer money to fund the smart grid projects through 2019, it retains a previously passed Dec. 31, 2017 deadline for the Illinois General Assembly to report on the performance-based formula rate for the infrastructure developments.
According to regulatory filings, approximately $784 million has been spent on ComEd’s smart grid program so far, and the utility plans to complete investments by 2018, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Chicago-based consumer advocacy group, the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), had urged legislatures not to pass the measure without more information on the progress of current smart grid investments.
"We're generally supportive of smart grid," CUB Executive Director David Kolata told Crain's Chicago Business. "We think if the law is implemented correctly it will bring benefits. We don't have enough evidence that it's working as well as it can....We think it's too soon to do something like this."
Now, whether the extension becomes law is in the hands of Quinn.