ICC judges recommend 3% rate hike for ComEd

By Tribune staff report
Posted April 13 at 1:53 p.m.

Even as Commonwealth Edison fights in Springfield for legislation that would set utility rates by formula and sharply undercut the authority of the Illinois Commerce Commission, at home, that same regulatory body is undercutting ComEd in its battles for rate increases.

Administrative law judges recommended that Commonwealth Edison Co. be allowed a rate increase of about 3 percent, or $166 million, less than half what the Chicago-based utility requested last June.

Regarding the surcharge, which would initially add about 25 cents to consumer’s bills, an administrative law judge wrote, “The Commission sees ComEd‘s various warnings regarding the need to have a cost recovery mechanism in place now, but we find that adopting a cost recovery mechanism at this point of the process would be premature.”

Arlana Johnson, spokesman for ComEd, said they were disappointed with the judge’s draft recommendation that the ICC disallow the utility from adding a surcharge to consumer’s bills, a proposal that opponents criticized as a way to circumvent the legislature.

“Customers want more choice and control of their energy costs, in addition to excellent system reliability. ComEd’s proposal is a way to provide them with these improvements now, when they need it the most. We believe we have proved our case for our proposal and the ICC will agree in the end,” she said.

It’s uncertain whether a second recommendation to cut ComEd’s request for a rate increase in half, will mollify consumers and their advocates who have lined up in opposition to ComEd’s request that would add about $5 to the average resident’s $86 monthly bill.

The Citizens Utility Board and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office are among those that have testified against the proposal.

The proposal sides with staff, the attorney general’s office and CUB in recommending that ComEd be denied the ability the ability to recover from ratepayers $72,000 in expenses related to game tickets and luxury box catering expenses because “they are not necessary for the provision of safe and reliable electric service.” The proposed order also concluded that ComEd’s proposed rate of return was too high.

“These rates should be permanently canceled and annulled,” states the proposed order, filed with the ICC April 1.

Arlana Johnson, spokeswoman for ComEd said “ComEd believes that we have proved our case for the full amount of our rate request. The (administrative law judges’) proposed order is preliminary and we will await the ICC’s final decision.”

The ICC is expected to make a final decision on the proposed rate increase by May 24 and a final decision about the surcharge by May 28. The proposed order on the rate case was first reported by Crain’s Chicago.

– By Mary Ellen Podmolik and Julie Wernau, Tribune staff reporters

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  1. Mark S. April 13 at 9:11 a.m.

    “ComEd’s rates which are presently in effect are insufficient to generate the operating income necessary to permit ComEd the opportunity to earn a fair and reasonable return on net original cost rate base …”

    Then ComEd should make cuts to the way it operates, specifically to the salaries of their fat cat executives. And eliminate the stupid commercials and ads. The competition isn’t hurting them in the least.

  2. Chuck F April 13 at 9:50 a.m.

    Why should a monopoly be guaranteed a profit by law? Let the shareholders take the risk of investment.

  3. Pat P April 13 at 10:37 a.m.

    Once again, the ICC has taken a stand against the consumer. I thought they existed for OUR protection.

  4. Dan April 13 at 11:26 a.m.

    “Why should a monopoly be guaranteed a profit by law? Let the shareholders take the risk of investment.”

    Because the price is set by law. The same is true for taxis in the city. The deal is they give up the right to set prices, and in exchange the government guarantees a small profit. Costs for ComEd have gone up, so they are requesting to charge a higher rate to consumers. It’s just like the fuel surcharge that the taxis requested and received.

  5. sharko April 13 at 11:37 a.m.

    Surely, ComEd asked for vastly more than they ever thought they’d get. Maybe this “compromise” actually was close to what they wanted in the first place. More than that, this “compromise increase” sets the stage for their next rate increase request: “In 2011, we got so much less than we asked for, you just have to give us more now, or we’ll surely wither away and die.” Disingenuous? Of course. That’s the Corporate Way.

  6. rpmorri April 13 at 12:29 pm

    I recommend the ICC judges pay the entire cost of the increase, on behalf of consumers.

  7. SeraphimSarov April 13 at 1:12 pm

    “ComEd’s rates which are presently in effect are insufficient to generate the operating income necessary to permit ComEd the opportunity to earn a fair and reasonable return on net original cost rate base.”

    Define “fair and reasonable return.” For starters, let’s take a look at the following concerning a certain Mr. Frank M. Clark, CEO of ComEd:


    Upwards of three million dollars of total compensation, over two million of which is non-equity incentives. Wow, Frank, maybe you should have refused those two million in incentives and dropped your salary down to a woefully small, say, $300k per year in order to save your corporation money… or is it easier to place the burden on the backs of your customers while continuing to offer sub-par service?

    The ICC is apparently wholly corrupt. I recommend inundating their administrative law judges’ offices in Springfield and Chicago respectively with phone calls decrying their incompetence: (217) 782-4854 and (312) 814-6652.

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