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|Energy Rate Bill Gets Changed
|(IRN)-ComEd and Ameren have been working on a bill to speed up the process for increasing rates for several weeks. But a veto threat by the governor and a new amendment from the bill's sponsor is giving the bill a new look.
Under current law, the electric companies have to go to the Illinois Commerce Commission, propose rate hikes and have them approved before implementing the increases, a process that can take 11 months. The companies say this process is too slow as they try to put together a multi-billion dollar infrastructure improvement project.
To date, H.B. 14 would have allowed the companies to set the rates and then have the ICC determine if those were prudent and justified, a regulatory change to which AARP and other consumer groups have been opposed.
"One of the biggest complaints from AARP and other groups is that the rate goes in before the ICC commission has a chance," said State Representative Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), the sponsor. "I told them I was uncomfortable with that, so we're going to change that so that the ICC will approve the rate before it ever becomes collected from the people there."
McCarthy says the bill would still speed up the time it takes for the ICC to review the rate increases. "Now there will be a formula involved," said McCarthy, referring to another aspect of the bill that the two companies are pushing for to ensure revenue predictability. "But the rate case will go through. They'll have about an eight month, nine month time. So that, I think, is a time frame that in this day and age they certainly can meet. So the ICC can rule on it and they'll rule on it before that rate goes into effect."
McCarthy says he will listen to any suggestions Governor Pat Quinn has. Quinn was instrumental in creating the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer group that has been opposed to H.B. 14.
McCarthy says he hopes to file the amendment by the end of the week and have a vote on the floor of the Illinois House sometime next week.
(Source: Illinois Radio Network)
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