Blog Posts By:

Abe Scarr,
Illinois PIRG State Director

Illinois’ moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction is sound policy that should be maintained. The United States has no long-term plan for the safe storage of nuclear waste, nuclear power is cost-prohibitive, and Illinois can better meet its long-term energy needs through 100% renewable energy.

In 2013, the General Assembly passed Public Act 98-57, which allows Ameren Gas, Nicor, and Peoples Gas to accelerate cost recovery by automatically raising customer bills through a bill surcharge, known as Rider QIP, to pay for certain types of infrastructure investment. The rider is scheduled to sunset December 31, 2023. House Bill 3941 would move that sunset date forward by one year, to December 31, 2022. The case for doing so is significant.

 

Across the country, the Right to Repair movement is diverse, bipartisan, and growing. What unites us is simple: we just want to fix our stuff.

It is critical that Illinois take action to build our 100% renewable energy future. Because this action is so important, and because the omnibus legislation contains many critical policies we support, I am disappointed to write in opposition to SB2408, which fails to end key formula rates harms by continuing to guarantee utility profits through a policy known as an annual reconciliation.

As documented in our December, 2020 report, Guaranteed Profits, Broken Promises, ComEd built an unparalleled political influence operation to pass the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA), the law creating automatic “formula” rate hikes. Once built, ComEd continued to use its influence operation to win further windfalls for ComEd and Exelon. One of the best examples was when it returned to the Illinois General Assembly for more profits through a 2013 EIMA trailer bill. In our report, we calculated that this power play resulted in at least $400 million in additional profits for ComEd since the trailer bill passed in 2013, all paid for by ComEd’s customers. With new and additional analysis, we are updating our calculation to over $650 million.

Illinois PIRG is calling to end the practice wherein utilities can pass the costs of charitable contributions on to their customers. Charity doesn’t mean giving away someone else’s money. One concern we’ve heard is that ComEd and other utilities may be less generous with their charitable contributions if they are not allowed to pass the cost on to consumers. New research shows that is unlikely.

In the wake of the ComEd scandal, the Illinois General Assembly must enact meaningful utility accountability reforms - not only to address unethical behavior, but to also address the harmful utility policy legacy of the past decade. We were thrilled that the Consumer and Climate First Act includes our agenda’s key priorities.

House Bill 1473 is yet another proposal to grant gas grant utilities overly broad authority to spend billions of dollars with limited oversight, driving up customer bills with no guarantee of customer or public benefit. 

House Bill 1472, House Floor Amendment 1 is complex, sophisticated legislation, but can be summarized simply: it doubles down on the worst policies passed during ComEd’s corrupt scheme, and makes them even worse.

We oppose Senate Bill 2393 because it assumes fossil fuel infrastructure is the best solution to a community’s energy needs without proper consideration of alternatives. We also oppose SB2393 because it incentivizes gas line extensions throughout Illinois by shifting costs of extension on to existing customers. These policies are risky if not reckless in a time of climate change.