SPRINGFIELD — A utility-backed legislative push to trade investment in electrical grid upgrades for rate hikes will likely be updated this week to include a cap on those increases.
State Rep. Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday the amended version of the legislation would include a 2.5 percent cap on increases to customers’ electric bills each year over the next three years.
The Orland Park Democrat said the measure would sunset in 2017, forcing the utilities to ask for an extension from the Legislature to approve further investment.
The legislation would include only electric utilities, not natural gas utilities. McCarthy said this means the gas side of Ameren Illinois would not be part of the proposal.
“It was tough making that decision about the gas, but I thought it was the right thing,” McCarthy said.
Both the attorney general’s office and the Citizens Utility Board, along with Gov. Pat Quinn, have been vocal in their opposition to an earlier version of the legislation, all saying it did not provide adequate consumer protections and that it would guarantee profits to the utilities.
The attorney general’s office does not think the changes to the legislation go far enough to protect consumers.
Paul Gaynor, chief of the attorney general’s public interest division, said the “so-called” rate cap would allow utilities to pocket savings from an expected decrease in energy prices.
“The proposed changes are nothing more than window dressing,” Gaynor said. “It still guarantees exorbitant profits and annual rate increases for consumers.”
An Ameren spokesman said he couldn’t comment on the changes that would result from the proposal until the amendment had been officially filed.
The legislation is House Bill 14.