The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Senators Solicit Veto-Override Votes for ComEd Bill

By Chris Bentley in News on Oct 25, 2011 4:30PM

2011_1_12_statehouse.jpg A veto override battle is underway in Springfield, with Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) squaring off against Gov. Pat Quinn over a Commonwealth Edison-backed rate-increase bill.

Quinn vetoed the so-called smart grid bill in September. The $2.6 billion bill would have allowed ComEd to ramp up profits through annual rate hikes, part of which would be used for a $1.5 billion modernization of its power grid.

Harmon coaxed a series of changes to the bill from the Senate Executive Committee Monday:

In exchange for a series of rate increases, Harmon’s proposal would require ComEd to invest more in storm-proofing its power-grid system, commit to annual guaranteed profits of less than 10 percent during the next decade and establish a fund for needy ratepayers who can’t afford to pay their electricity bills.

An AARP-sponsored poll showed 7 in 10 Illinoisans oppose the controversial bill, which is also being pushed by the downstate utility Ameren. ComEd dismissed the poll, which they said in a statement was “designed to produce a pre-ordained result.”

The follow-on bill proposed by Harmon would penalize ComEd for failing to meet improved reliability standards or falling short of the job creation promises made in the bill, SB 1652.

Business leaders and the Sierra Club have defended the bill, calling on state legislators to override the Governor’s veto. If they can’t amass enough votes to pass the bill before the end of the session, the State Legislature is back to square one.