ICC backs off: ComEd can wait until 2015 to deploy smart meters

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By: SGN Staff

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ComEd has been through a rough year, to say the least. Last month an Interstate Commerce Commission administrative law judge recommended against the utility's request to delay smart meter deployment until 2015, which the utility had asked for because previous ICC rulings made significant cuts in its cost recovery. But on Wednesday the commission approved ComEd's request – with one condition.

 

Last year the Illinois General Assembly overrode the governor's veto and passed sweeping grid modernization legislation, and ComEd started its 10-year, $2.6 billion smart grid investment program. It was then supposed to start its smart meter deployment. But ICC's interpretation of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act led it to disallow much of ComEd's formula rate case for cost recovery.

 

A rehearing requested by the utility resulted in only one of 13 issues it had raised being overturned. At that point, ComEd said it couldn't install the smart meters as quickly as originally specified and that it would lose $100 million in funding annually as a result.

 

ComEd's initiative has had its share of critics and detractors, but also has supporters, including the legislature. The state Senate last week passed a resolution urging the ICC to back off and allow the delay, as the Illinois House had done in a similar resolution over the summer.

 

ICC Chairman Doug Scott said during the commission session that he hoped the delay would provide "a way forward," according to an article in Crain's Chicago Business. But he did criticize ComEd for "overstating" the revenue it would have lost. In the same article, a ComEd spokesman said "Preliminarily, it sounds like a very good and reasonable outcome and something we can work with."

 

That one condition? ComEd is scheduled to file a progress report in April, and the commission is expected to review the matter then.

 

Jim Chilsen, spokesman for the Citizens Utility Board, said the delay was not in consumers' best interests and that it will decide whether to take the decision to the Illinois Appeals Court after it has had time to look at it, according to the Chicago Tribune.

 

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