May 29, 2013

Earlier this month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed legislation that would have raised roughly $2.6 billion over ten years for Smart Grid deployment. Both the Illinois House and Senate voted to override Gov. Quinn’s veto last week.

With the bill instated, ComEd will be able to generate $2.6 billion over ten years through customer rate hikes. The funds will go toward digitizing the electric grid through operational changes and smart meter deployment to the utility’s more than 3.8 million customers. ComEd claims that these changes will save money in the long run and will allow customers to better monitor and manage their electricity usage in order to save money.

Gov. Quinn vetoed the bill because of the potential of undermining state oversight as well as forced automatic rate increases on the utility’s customers. The Citizen’s Utility Board of Illinois, a state-funded agency aimed at protecting energy ratepayers, also disapproved of the rate hikes associated with the legislation. ComEd was scheduled to roll out smart meter deployment in 2012 after a recent $182 million rate hike. In an ongoing dispute between the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), ComEd claims that it only agreed to deploy the smart meters if another rate hike of $107 was approved last year. The ICC approved only $89 million, and now 12 matters worth a claimed $100 million are being disputed in an ongoing court battle between the two entities.

ComEd has supported the bill since its inception and claims that it is needed to support its smart grid program and infrastructure. Modernization of the utility’s electric grid will create jobs, reduce power outages, and give consumers more control over their energy usage and consumption, according to the utility.

Residential customers can expect the delivery service portions of their bills to increase by about 40 cents in 2014 and about 80 cents in 2017. All ComEd customers will be affected, including those that have moved to a retail electricity provider for their electric supply service. Customers can still save on the supply portion of their bills by shopping for a retail electricity provider with a lower Price-to-Compare than ComEd. Currently, the Price-to-Compare is 8.302 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and is scheduled to drop to 5.511 cents/kWh on June 1st.