Illinois Senate lashes out at regulators over ComEd smart grid funding

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The battle over Commonwealth Edison's smart grid initiative continues in Illinois, with the latest volley from the state Senate. In a 47-4 vote Thursday, lawmakers passed a resolution protesting the Illinois Commerce Commission's (ICC's) deep cuts in ComEd funding and urging the regulators to reverse their decision.

 

Last year the Illinois Legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto to pass the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) and ComEd embarked on an ambitious 10-year, $2.6 billion investment program.

 

There have been numerous twists and turns since then. Earlier this year the ICC's interpretation of the EIMA prompted it to disallow key costs in ComEd’s first formula rate case under the new law. ComEd sought a rehearing on 13 issues it said had a significant aggregate impact on its finances, but only three issues were reconsidered in the rehearing and only one was overturned. As a result, ComEd said it faces a reduction in funding of nearly $100 million per year in 2014 and beyond.

 

The utility is challenging the ICC ruling in the Illinois Appellate Court, and as the Chicago Sun-Times points out, the Senate resolution gives ComEd ammunition in its legal challenge.

 

"The General Assembly last year voted overwhelmingly in favor of the grid modernization law, because it will create more than 2,000 jobs, help reduce power outages, and hold utilities to first-of-a-kind performance standards to ensure that Illinois residents get better service and cost-saving opportunities," said Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton. "The law also very clearly recognized this program requires a significant amount of investment, and to do this, utilities need reasonable certainty to recover their actual costs. Today’s resolution sends a strong message that the legislature wants the ICC to adhere to the law and ensure all benefits are achieved."

 

Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, noted that the resolution only asks for what the legislation already provides.

 

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Illinois Senate Passes Resolution Calling on the ICC to

Maintain Integrity of Grid Modernization Law, Protect Job Creation

ComEd reliability and customer service improvements, creation of 2,000 jobs now in jeopardy

CHICAGO (Nov. 29, 2012) – ComEd announced that the Illinois Senate passed a resolution today that  calls on the Illinois Commerce Commission to maintain the integrity of the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) enacted by the full General Assembly last year to improve electric reliability, give customers greater control over energy usage and costs and create jobs.

“ComEd is delivering on its promises to customers and to the state of
Illinois,” said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. “Under the grid modernization law, we have created more than 700 jobs in the process of strengthening our system and improving reliability and storm response for customers. We are grateful to the Senate for passing SR 821, signaling its commitment to this 10-year, $2.6 billion investment program.”

The Senate resolution, which passed by a vote of 47 to 4, strongly urges the ICC to reverse its decision to reduce funding on key issues in the utility’s first formula rate filing under the new law.

“The General Assembly last year voted overwhelmingly in favor of the grid modernization law, because it will create more than 2,000 jobs, help reduce power outages, and hold utilities to first-of-a-kind performance standards to ensure that Illinois residents get better service and cost-saving opportunities,” said Illinois Senate President John J
. Cullerton
. “The law also very clearly recognized this program requires a significant amount of investment, and to do this, utilities need reasonable certainty to recover their actual costs. Today’s resolution sends a strong message that the legislature wants the ICC to adhere to the law and ensure all benefits are achieved.”

After the ICC disallowed key costs May 29 in ComEd’s first formula rate case under EIMA, the company sought rehearing on 13 issues that had a significant aggregate impact on ComEd’s finances, and of these 13, the three largest were reconsidered in rehearing
. Only one of these was reversed by the ICC when it ruled on the rehearing Oct
. 3
.

 

As a result, ComEd will face a reduction in funding of nearly $100 million per year in 2014 and beyond.  These are dollars that cannot be recovered and subsequently reinvested into the system, jeopardizing the grid modernization programs and related customer benefits. ComEd has appealed the ruling in court, but that decision may take up to two years.

 

“We are working to implement the legislature’s vision to modernize our system, improve reliability, give customers greater control over energy usage and costs, create jobs and keep Illinois economically competitive,” said Pramaggiore
. “The Senate resolution asks for nothing more than what the legislation already provides
. It only asks that the law be followed and implemented for the benefit of
Illinois consumers and our economy
.”

###

 

Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) is a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC), the nation’s leading competitive energy provider, with approximately 6
.6 million customers
. ComEd provides service to approximately 3.8 million customers across northern Illinois, or 70 percent of the state’s population.