CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he would veto pending legislation that would allow automatic rate increases to pay for upgrades to the electric grid.
Commonwealth Edison, Ameren and other utilities need to bear some of the financial burden for modernizing the electric grid, and the Illinois Commerce Commission must have the power to review rates to protect consumers, Quinn said.
“They’re big. They’re behemoth. But they’re not the people of Illinois,’’ Quinn said. “We cannot allow energy policy in Illinois to be run by a company or two.’’
A proposal before the Illinois House would amend state law to allow utility companies to raise consumers’ electric rates without review to recoup the cost of infrastructure improvements. One of its co-sponsors, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, D-Orland Park, said he will make sure a forthcoming amendment includes language requiring all rate increases to be approved by the commerce commission.
Rep. Dave Winters, R-Shirland, another co-sponsor, said electric utilities won’t upgrade their infrastructure without a guarantee they’ll be reimbursed.
“The utilities are not going to upgrade to move us into new era of technology without a guarantee,’’ Winters said. “We’ll be stuck with 20th century technology when we’re in a new century.’’
ComEd said in a statement it supports the House bill.
“ComEd has outlined the substantive benefits to Illinois consumers contained in the bill in the form of improved reliability, improved customer service, jobs, business expansion and future economic development,’’ the utility said.
Quinn said he supports a comprehensive energy plan that will create jobs, stabilize energy bills and encourage investment in clean, renewable energy. But he will veto the current measure unless the Illinois Commerce Commission retains the authority to review rate increases.