Blog Posts By:

Abe Scarr,
Illinois PIRG State Director

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.

Senate Bill 311 is the latest bill in a series of utility-driven initiatives to legislatively grant utilities overly broad authority to spend massive amounts of money with limited Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) oversight, driving up customer bills with no guarantees of customer or public benefit.

House Bill 3115 is the latest in a series of utility-driven initiatives to legislatively grant utilities overly broad authority to spend massive amounts of money with limited Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) oversight, driving up customer bills with no guarantees of customer or public benefit.

As has been well established, the Peoples Gas pipe replacement program is driving a home heating affordability crisis in Chicago. New data on utility debt provided to the Commission underlines the severity of the problem. 

Our job is to make sure that any decisions that get made during this legislative session are made in the public’s best interest.