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The Illinois Senate on Tuesday passed omnibus energy legislation that could provide utility companies with windfall profits at customer expense. The legislation, Senate Bill 18, extends formula rate policies that guarantee utility profits, provides ComEd parent company Exelon Corporation with a $694 million nuclear bailout, and fails to adequately address pollution from the state’s dirtiest power plants. At the same time, the bill enacts important policies to advance Illinois’ clean energy future.
In the wake of the ComEd corruption scandal, the legislation fails to include key policies Illinois PIRG and allies have called for, policies that were included in Gov. JB Pritzker’s proposed legislation in April, including a complete end to formula rates, ending similar gas utility bill surcharges, and ending utilities’ ability to charge customers for utility “charitable” giving.
Yesterday, AARP Illinois released a new analysis that found the legislation would result in a $15 monthly increase on the average residential customer bill and a $14 billion overall increase in customer bills over the next decade. Of that $14 billion, the single biggest cost driver is not the Exelon bailout or increases in renewable energy funding, but rather ComEd profits, through higher distribution rates.
In response, Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr and Environment Illinois Associate Paloma Paez-Coombe made the following statements:
“Let’s make one thing clear: This legislation does not end formula rates. It makes formula rate utility profit guarantees permanent in a ratemaking structure that is more generous to ComEd and Ameren than the status quo. Utility companies were in the negotiating room while utility critics were shut out, resulting in legislation that sends more customer money to Exelon in the form of ComEd profits than through the direct $694 million nuclear subsidy.
In the wake of the ComEd bribery scandal, the Illinois General Assembly had the opportunity to make a clean break from the tainted energy policy approach of the past. This legislation fails to meet the moment.”
“Illinois can and should join the seven other states who have made bold commitments to achieve 100 percent clean energy in the coming decades. Unfortunately, this bill directs more money to nuclear power plants that Illinois residents have paid for several times over and prioritizes utility company profits above our clean energy future. It's time to stop holding renewable energy policy hostage to powerful utility interests and the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past. Instead of continuing failed policies, the General Assembly should take action to put Illinois on a clear path to 100 percent renewable energy.”
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