Here is State Senator Pam Althoff’s explanation of her vote on the override of Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of the bill sought by Commonwealth Edison and Ameren. It is in the form of a letter to constituents contacting her about the issue.
Thank you for contacting me about the electric grid modernization utility legislation or SB1652.
I understand your frustration and/or anger regarding my support for this legislation.
I, like you, am outraged that area residents were without power for, in many cases, four and five days after the last windstorm.
I believe more than ever that Illinois’ 20th Century electric grid is in serious decline and demands modernization.
I believe that the Illinois Commerce Commission who is the regulatory oversight for utilities in the state of Illinois has failed, for years, to adequately address this infrastructure need with our electric companies to the detriment of Illinois residents.
I believe after much revision SB1652 and the subsequent trailer bill, HB3036, address these concerns.
Let me also state that there has been much misinformation, as well as outdated information, about this legislation which has resulted in anger, anguish and mistrust.
I hope this letter will allay some of your fears and mistrust.
I will also always remain available to discuss this information further or to answer any questions you may have.
Multiple major legislative revisions occurred before SB1652 was voted on.
The bill only applies to electric utilities if they have met hard target documented goals and employ more than 2500 NEW workers.
These companies must minimally invest $2.6 billion in the new grid system and meet statutory performance goals or face stiff financial and regulatory penalties.
These companies must still go through a multi-month long formula rate hearing in front of the Illinois Commerce Commission; which retains regulatory oversight and enforcement of the performance standards to protect consumers.
This is the same process utilities use to currently obtain rate increase approval.
Any and all rate changes shall be CAPPED and the entire program expires in 2017.
HB3036 also added additional Illinois Commerce Commission performance measures (identified in the Governor’s veto) as well as lowered (below historically granted ICC rates) the permitted rate of investment return (profits) for these utility companies.
In addition the bill requires the shareholders of the company pay $60 million to fund low-income families, seniors, disabled veterans and others that may be affected by utility disconnections.
The bill will ultimately permit homeowners and businesses the ability to more effectively manage their energy use and save money.
The new technology will also provide a foundation for economic development in our region and enable businesses to develop new green technology and provide better more efficient energy management tools.
The legislation was soundly supported by the Illinois Business Roundtable a volunteer organization of 63 chief executive officers of Illinois’ leading businesses as well as all the leading environmental organizations…that is a very diverse group of special interest entities…all advocating passage of SB1652 on behalf of the Illinois consumer.