Illinois smart grid fistfight continues - Governor knocked down again

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By: SGN Staff

Quick Take: Here's the latest installment in the will-it-ever-end saga of Illinois' attempt to set and fund a performance-based approach to the smart grid. Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the first version of the legislation, but was overridden by the legislature. Then came a feud between the regional utilities and the Illinois public utility commission, which resulted in corrective legislation... which Quinn promptly vetoed again.

 

Now both houses of the Illinois legislature have overturned his veto by wide margins. The decision sets the stage for ComEd and Ameren to begin work in earnest with the expectation they'll receive adequate recompense. Ratepayers are protected by performance clauses that require the utilities to hit specific metrics.

 

See below for official statements from both utilities. - By Jesse Berst

 

Legislators enact Senate Bill 9, putting smart grid back on track

 

The Illinois General Assembly overrode a veto to enact Senate Bill 9, getting the state’s Smart Grid program back on track. The law, which takes effect immediately, ensures ComEd can invest in a modern grid that will reduce power outages and give customers more choice and control over their energy use. ComEd’s modernization efforts are designed to reduce outages by 700,000 per year, saving customers an estimated $100 million in outage-related costs.

 

Senate Bill 9 served to clarify existing language in the original Smart Grid law. The Illinois Commerce Commission participated in developing the bill’s language and retains its regulatory oversight over ComEd.

 

“Thanks to the leadership demonstrated by the Illinois General Assembly, ComEd now can get the Smart Grid program back on track and work toward delivering on the full promise of this program to our customers,” said Anne Pramaggiore, president and CEO, ComEd. “We are starting immediately to accelerate smart meter installation and other work to improve reliability, provide new ways to save energy and money, and serve as a shot in the arm to our state’s economy.”

 

With the law’s enactment, ComEd can begin installing smart meters to customers in the fourth quarter of 2013. The installations will continue through 2021. Smart meters provide real-time data to electricity users about how much power they’re using, giving customers more control over their energy use. Several businesses plan to open new facilities in Illinois to support the manufacture and installation of the meters, creating hundreds of additional jobs in our state. Already, three companies have set up new offices in Illinois to support the Smart Grid, and the program has created more than 2,700 full-time equivalent jobs.

 

“This legislation will mean improved and more reliable electric service for Illinois residents, and it will create jobs and spur economic development,” said Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie), chief House sponsor of the legislation. “Now that this bill has become law, electric utilities can proceed with investing millions of dollars into Illinois’ economy and create thousands of new jobs.”