This summer ComEd admitted to actions federal prosecutors describe as a corrupt bribery scheme going back almost a decade. The utility admitted to giving out jobs and contracts, often with no expectation of work, to allies of House Speaker Madigan, in hopes of influencing one of the state’s most powerful politicians. So far, one high-ranking ComEd executive pleaded guilty, and federal prosecutors are continuing their investigation into the utility and state officials.
ComEd used its bribes and influence to win policies in a series of laws granting them automatic rate hikes, weakening the Illinois utility regulator, and bailing out nuclear power plants owned by ComEd’s parent company, Exelon. Because of these laws, ComEd customers have paid more than $5 billion more on their utility bills since 2012 than they would had rates remained at 2012 levels.
At a time our electric bills should have been going down as electricity became less expensive, and most people are having to tighten their belts, we’re paying ComEd 37% more to deliver electricity to our homes and businesses. ComEd also held up critical clean energy policies that would improve public health and address climate change. As a result, Illinois lags the country in solar power and our fledgling renewable energy industry is facing a critical funding shortfall.
As part of its agreement with federal prosecutors, ComEd agreed to pay a $200 million fine. But that is only a fraction of its profits from the laws it passed and all of that money is going to the federal government, none directly back to ComEd’s customers. Worse, ComEd claims the laws it used bribery to help pass were good for consumers and is fighting efforts to be held accountable.
It’s outrageous, and we can’t let them get away with it. That’s why we created the Take our Power Back campaign, to fight for consumers and true utility reform in Springfield. We’re calling for Restitution, Restored oversight, and Reform:
- Restitution: ComEd’s scheme made them billions in excess profits, profits we paid for with our monthly bills. We deserve some money back.
- Restore Oversight: To make sure we don’t continue to overpay, we must subject ComEd to a thorough independent investigation, and give power back to utility regulators.
- Reform: ComEd gained too much power and influence over our lawmakers. We need ethics and political reform to stop that from happening again.
The good news is that Governor Pritzker also supports meaningful utility reform, placing it at the top of his energy agenda. He has called for an immediate end to automatic rate hikes, re-empowering utility regulators, and new transparency and ethics reforms.
Gov. Pritzker’s support will go a long way, but ComEd and other utilities still have supporters in Springfield, so passing strong reforms won’t be easy. That’s why we, as an organization that has been fighting back against ComEd for years, are launching our campaign. We have the credibility with the public and lawmakers to advocate for real reform.
But we can’t do it without you. We need lawmakers to hear loud and clear that their constituents are tired of overpaying on their utility bills and corrupt laws and demand real reform.