ComEd to renew push for automatic rate hikes

By Julie Wernau
Posted Jan. 14 at 4:19 p.m.

Commonwealth Edison Co. is pushing for legislation that would increase gas and electric bills according to a formula, rather than through the more complicated regulatory process  used today.

The company said a more streamlined regulatory process would allow it to quickly and predictably recoup investments aimed at modernizing the electrical grid rather than having to wait the 11 months needed to decide a rate case. A similar proposal ComEd brought forward last year that did not include the state’s other utilities, flamed out with lawmakers.

Consumer advocate group Citizens Utility Board agreed Friday that regulatory changes may be needed to make the state’s smart grid goals a reality but warned that ComEd’s previous proposal did not provide consumer safeguards. An appellate court ruled in October that the Illinois Commerce Commission overstepped its authority in 2008 when it allowed a $5 million rider to be tacked onto all customers’ bills to pay for a smart grid pilot program in the Chicago area, essentially removing the mechanism that ComEd had been using to pay for smart grid investment.

“If we’re going to replace what you have now, you need strong performance metrics,” said David Kolata, executive director at CUB. “… Given the amount of investment (smart grid technology) requires, we understand that changes may be needed. But this can’t be a way for them to get automatic rate increases every year and that’s that.”

In its offer last year, ComEd asked for a four-year rate freeze and an automatic 10.3  percent profit margin that would bypass state regulators. In exchange, the utility offered the state $500 million to help ease its budget woes.

This session, the utility said it will ask the legislature to set rates according to a formula, like that used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to pay for transmission lines.  Under the proposal, a utility would file annual rate adjustments according to that formula, and the Illinois Commerce Commission would review them as a protection for consumers. A more streamlined process, the utility said, would make it easier for utilities to commit to long-term investments.

“The current process for determining rates is unpredictable and inadequate to support the long-term and programmatic investments needed for a modern and reliable electric infrastructure in Illinois,” ComEd said.

Kolata said the utility should be required to show that it is meeting the goals that smart grid technology purports to accomplish –  such as energy efficiency and a reduction in peak demand — as part of any legislation to  adjust the regulatory framework.

“We’re open to discussions around changes to the regulatory system,” Kolata said. “But to the extent that the bill looks like last year’s bill, that’s not a good deal for consumers.”

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  1. dan garcia Jan. 14 at 5:58 pm

    our income tax just went up and now this. this state is a joke.

  2. JD Jan. 14 at 6:12 pm

    Sounds like “dan garcia” didn’t read or understand the article. To be fair, the headline is somewhat misleading.

    I’m all for paying a few dollars (and really, that might be an overestimation) more a year if they’re going to improve the grid. It’ll be much better in the long run.

    Then again, I’m not as short-sighted as 99% of Americans.

  3. Jacked Jan. 14 at 6:14 pm

    You might not be short-sighted but I think you might be short-minded! What do you work for ComEd?

  4. jd Jan. 14 at 6:19 pm

    whats with you people bad enough they raised the income tax now you want to raise the rates im havin a hard time paying all my bills now. tell your CEO TO TAKE A PAY CUT stick yur rate hike where the sun dont shine

  5. David Jan. 14 at 6:23 pm

    The only thing to improve was the dollar amount of my bill. It was only supposed to go up a few(?) dollars a month? Bullony. My bill went from about 99.00-109.00 to almost 200.00 or more a month. And nothing has changed except I got a new meter before their last increase went through. So much for a slight increase per month. I don’t mind paying for my utilites I just don’t like being raped for them.

  6. fred Jan. 14 at 6:26 pm

    Seems to me the PArent Company of ComEd is making great profits and paying its share holders a nice dividend.

  7. rose Jan. 14 at 6:36 pm

    If consumers are paying for the smart grid through rate increase, who will get the benefits of energy efficiency, reduction in peak demand? I am sure it will be ComEd and its parent company and not the consumers.

  8. Jerry Jan. 14 at 6:36 pm

    Hey JD the improvements to the grid should come out of their profits instaed of passing the cost on to the consumer. But we know that won’t happen because the profits go into the pockets of the Upper Management and investors. Whatever happened to the cost of doing business. That 1% you are in must be pretty lonely…or maybe you are one of the pockets that are being lined by Com Ed.

  9. CRIS Jan. 14 at 6:37 pm

    What my problem is ComEd has the Monopoly on electricity here they have no one to contend with for business so they think and they do charge ridiculous delivery charge fee WTF is that all about a $35+ delivery charge on my bill every month that’s an expensive package I’m paying for but have no idea why I’m paying for it. We need to demand other options for electric services.

  10. DP Jan. 14 at 6:45 pm

    JD;- You sound just too wonderful for Words ! Not

  11. ken Jan. 14 at 6:46 pm

    The problem is that Obama’s EPA is about to cause the highest increase in electrical production costs in world history! You think your paying for nuclear and coal in Illinois! WRONG! You pay extra for Obama to fund solar farms and wind farms all over the country! YOU PAY EXTRA! Obama is raping the poor and the middle class with energy costs and it is about to hit businesses increasing unemployment to 15%. Osama is so happy that Obama is a better al Qaeda terrorist than he! Obama has done more damage to the US economy than 9/11 did!

  12. JA Jan. 14 at 6:55 pm

    Why the comma in this sentence?

    “A similar proposal ComEd brought forward last year that did not include the state’s other utilities, flamed out with lawmakers.”

    How can people who cannot write [or proofread] become writers [or proofreaders]?

  13. Dean R. Swanson Jan. 14 at 6:56 pm

    I Totally Agree with cris! As 2 people on a fixed income, we need other options!! in fact DEMAND it

  14. Richard Reder Jan. 14 at 8:03 pm

    I’m moving into my car!

  15. al Jan. 14 at 11:37 pm

    Maybe if Nicor cut out some of the fat they wouldn’t need to try and get more money from customers. Like sitting in their trucks reading newspapers for hours on end. Seen a Nicor truck outside a foreclosed home with it’s yellow light. No one was home at the house and he sat in that truck for hours then finally drove off. How much did that cost us??

  16. al Jan. 14 at 11:40 pm

    Com Ed another joke. Years ago when your power went out there was someone to talk to on the phone now its just some stupid recorded message that tells you your power MAY be on in six hours if not call back and another recorded message will tell you it will be another 6 hours if not …………………

  17. Tim Jan. 15 at 7:20 a.m.

    Tell Com Ed to stick it. You are a monopoly and should go through the regulatory process to get a rate hike. If you are having financial problems cut expenses, and unnecessary jobs which you probably have such as an overpaid spokesperson.

  18. Paul Jan. 15 at 9:01 a.m.

    com Ed is a business that makes huge profits when the profits get so big they pass it on in increases in pay to upper management. It should be required to make its own investments to better its bottom line. NOt put the bite on the customers to fund equipment upgrades. The profits show that this company can do this internally and still show a profit.

    I think we need a second power company to balance things out, END THE MONOPOLY! or forever submit to the whims of com ed

  19. vb Jan. 15 at 9:05 a.m.

    Phuck you ComEd!

  20. Marion Mims Jan. 15 at 9:54 a.m.

    Here in Chicago, Edison dues not burn coal in it’s generators. They burn
    natural gas. Next time you drive by one of their generation stations, look
    for the huge diameter pipes painted yellow and coming up out out of the
    ground and entering the buildings. And more than likely it is being
    purchased from Peoples Energy with a high-volume discount.
    And look at your bill, we are being charged for the electricty, the
    transmission lines and facilities and the generation stations.
    And now Edison wants automatic rate increases and with the new governor
    and “lawmakers” in the statehouse, they just might get it. Go figure.

  21. elginbrian Jan. 15 at 10:42 a.m.

    As someone who has managed energy buying for companies, I am well aware of the games ComEd played to get electric deregulation through the legislature. They profited handsomely, but now they want us to keep paying for their poor planning and maintenance practices on the grid. Sorry, I don’t buy it. ComEd is part of Exelon, which makes handsome profits, and can afford to make these upgrades. Exelon also supports cap-and-trade, which would make their nuclear power fleet more valuable. The state needs tell ComEd to pound one. They need to justify their increases. The majority of electricity users in this state have no choice but the utility. ComEd should not be able to get “automatic” increases using a formula that will be tilted in its favor.

  22. bgreen Jan. 15 at 11:30 a.m.

    Com Ed only has a monopoly if you don’t know the whole story. IL is one of the few states in the nation where people have the ability to purchase electricity from any ARES(alternative retail electric suppliers) Most people are clueless that they have this option as it is not openly publicized and COM ED pays millions to keep that information from it’s customer base. Here is a list:

    I’ve been telling people for years that the power rates in our state are going to double or triple. Here is evidence that it might do just that. Call your representatives, email them, and make sure they know that any form of of rate increase will be devastating to the majority of people in this state. The IPA has keep the rates down since 2008, but it’s only a matter of time until our legislature takes the bait from Exelon and raises the rates.

  23. Lea Tomassone Jan. 15 at 1:53 pm

    You know it’s just a matter of time till they get their hike, because our politicians are bought and payed for buy the utility Co. Our politicians do not work for the people. Never have & never will. They work for themselves. OH and by the way doesn’t ANYONE remember that jerk Quinn stating on national TV ” IL. HAS THE MOST UNFAIR TAX SYSTEM THERE IS ” Of course that was before he got elected. Just a reminder.

  24. Lee Farmington farmington NM Jan. 16 at 11:59 a.m.

    “CON’edison is only intrested in comsumers investing in smart grid so Stockholders and ceos can reap the profits no the cunsumers who pay and pay What is the reason for the SMART GRID? to turn off YOUR service without ever showing up don’t pay? dispute the bill? pay partial? no more sending someone to check meter, the promise of free electric from Nuclear should have woken us up COST ^x as much and was sold everywhere but Illinois than the cost to mothball? If smartgrid is so good they would be using right now and billing later The only thing you /We will get out of smart grid is bigger bills

  25. Lee Farmington farmington NM Jan. 16 at 12:07 pm

    what can they do to improve the “GRID” and what will the Improved”Grid do for you? For a few dollars amonth Nothing you will not get more electric
    you will not get CLEANER energy you will get Monitoring of you usage and shut down Remember when Electric Com EDison didn’t mind tearing up streets putting up poles and promising a new day was coming without charging a cent? Now a new day is coming but they want you to pay first than the day will come I say Improve it “GRID” than show the cost and improvements see if I want to buy ? Bet electric still goes out with passing storm

  26. jD Jan. 17 at 4:46 pm

    They should link ComED increases to SSA increases. If there is allegedly no inflation, then no colas for ComdED either.

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