Regulatory breakthrough? Illinois launches performance-based plan


By: SGN Staff


By Jesse Berst


Quick Take: Here's a concept. What if consumer and environmental groups were not adversaries of utilities but partners instead? What if they collaborated with utilities to agree on a plan, then went to the public utility commission to argue in favor of the utility's filing?


That's what is happening in Illinois, where both Ameren and ComEd have partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) to create performance measures - 19 tracking metrics in the case of Ameren and 20 for ComEd.


I have to agree with EDF attorney Raya Salter when she hopes that "these tracking metrics mechanisms and metrics will serve as models for other utilities around the country." I urge you to study what's going on in Illinois and to borrow ideas that might apply to your jurisdiction.


The basics of the plan are listed below. But you have to read between the lines to grasp the full implications. The utilities will be measured with much more precision than ever before. If they miss their targets, they will be penalized. If they meet or exceed them, they will get benefits. Most regulatory schemes are heavy on the stick and light on the carrot. I believe Illinois' balanced approach will achieve better results.