Com Ed’s Infrastructure Financing and the Last Com Ed Scam

Broken Com Ed high power line on Main Street in Crystal Lake next to Best Buy.

I don’t claim any expertise concerning electric utilities Commonwealth Edison’s and Ameren’s wanting customers to pay for upgrading its system.

But, it does seem to me that getting the electricity to homes and businesses is part of the business of being an electric utility.

Our home, which is on the very edge of Algonquin Township in Lakewood used to be served with electricity coming from just one direction.

Several years ago, Com Ed installed lines and equipment to allow it to come from the other direction as well. A lineman lost his life in the process.

This upgrade was financed by ongoing collection of electric bills.

Crystal Lake's Main Street was blocked off as this Com Ed high power line burned the asphalt, grans and bushes next to Best Buy.

When a line broke on Main Street next to Best Buy early last August, Com Ed employees repaired it.

Part of the cost of being a utility, I figure.

As the bill was being debated this week, another line break occurred in Niles, according to Niles Patch‘s John Ruberry.

It was “a power line in front of the Chase Bank branch at Golf snapped,” the author of Marathon Blog reported.

That reminded me of one of the worst votes I ever cast.  It was to deregulate electric suppliers in Illinois.  In exchange for passage of the bill, Com Ed promised to hold rates constant for ten years.

Nuclear power plants at Bryon as seen for Interstate 39.

What was part of the deal, but something I did not realize, was the General Assembly was giving permission to Com Ed to sell the nuclear power plants that Illinois ratepayers had been charged for since the 1950’s.

Most were pretty well paid off.

That would have meant the higher than average electricity charges we had been paying because of the high cost of the nuclear plants soon could not have been justified.

It is my belief that rates would have then decreased as a result of Illinois Commerce Commission rules.

In any event, had I the ability to re-vote, my button would have been red two times, instead of red the first time and green the second time around.

I can still remember how anxious Sam Skinner, the Com Ed exec who approached members of the General Assembly was to hand over a $250 million check for a energy conservation not-for-profit to be formed if the legislation passed.  (Sam Skinner is no relation, but his mother used to live in the same building as Lake Forest as my ex-wife Robin Geist’s maternal grandmother Littman.)

The House sponsor of the bill and a Republican favorite of Governor George Ryan got $25,000 a year governing board slots after the bill was signed and the foundation created and funded.

So, color me skeptical about this decade’s Com Ed bill.

Another observation:  Part of the proceeds of the rate hikes will go to install meters that will not require meter readers to walk from house to house.

Nothing wrong with such a concept, but couldn’t it be financed by the stream of revenue that will not required to pay future meter readers?

And, just how will firing all those meter readers or not replacing them create jobs.

I wonder if any legislator asked the questions I have raised above.

If they have, newspapers have not covered such aspects of the issue.

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