Illinois Energy Association: “Illinois Commerce Commission Overstepped its Authority” — Undermining Energy Legislature

The Illinois Energy Association (IEA), the trade association representing the state’s investor-owned electricity and natural gas utilities, issued a statement on May 31, 2012 contending that the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) overstepped its authority in its decisions announced from the bench Tuesday on the smart grid cost recovery plan proposed by Commonwealth Edison Company.

“The ICC rulings in this case amount to an effort to re-write key parts of the legislation that was passed last year by substantial majorities in both the House of Representatives and State Senate as Senate Bill 1652”, said Jim Monk, President of IEA.

Monk continued “this legislation was approved by the General Assembly over the objection of the ICC and is a critical part of modernizing the electricity grid here in Illinois, including the installation of smart meters that will help move our state’s grid into the 21st century. The legislative branch of government makes the laws and the administrative branch implements those laws. For the ICC to use the implementation phase to attempt to undermine what the legislature chose to do as a matter of policy is just wrong.”

The legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1652 for a very good reason according to Monk. “They wanted the utilities to invest in the state’s critical infrastructure so that our grid would be capable of supporting the kind of economic development and expansion that would help our state and its citizens to prosper in the future. Additionally, this decision puts at risk the tremendous consumer benefits that would have been delivered and the creation of more than 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs in Illinois,” he said.

A key part of the bill was to allow utilities making those investments to recover their actual costs. IEA contends that the decisions severely undermine the company’s ability to do so, and thus jeopardize the overall viability of the modernization effort.