Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Higher Electricity Rates Called For
Residents in Illinois could see an extra $3 to $5 surcharge on their monthly electricity bills next year. The state’s two largest electricity providers, ComEd and Ameren, hope to to give their delivery systems a $3.6 billion upgrade and pay for it with a surcharge to customers.
ComEd’s average customer would see an extra monthly charge of about $3, while Ameren’s average customer would pay an extra $5 monthly. ComEd’s extra charge was calculated to include savings the new grid would create, while Ameren’s was not, according to spokespeople for both companies.
Both of these charges would be on top of any normal rate increases the utility companies would seek during the next decade.
“Three dollars per month buys a smart grid, and the benefits from the investment more than offset the costs,” Anne Pramaggiore, president of ComEd, said Tuesday during a joint hearing of the Senate Energy Committee and the House Public Utilities Committee
Utility companies would recoup their investment in a smart grid – an electricity network that uses digital technology to use energy more efficiently – by altering the way it makes rate changes. The new system would allow companies to set their rates annually. Those rates would stand unless a complaint was filed with or by the Illinois Commerce Commission within 45 days of that rate change.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office said the new proposal for how rate change is approached is akin to an automatic rate hike.
“It is an extreme proposal that will effectively leave the Commerce Commission, the attorney general and other consumer advocates on the sidelines as Illinois utilities automatically raise their rates year in year out,” said Paul Gaynor, chief of the public interest division in Madigan’s office.
Commerce Commission Executive Director Tim Anderson said that he too is opposed to the legislation in its current form. The commission has problems with several areas of the plan in its current form, including the rate change overhaul, Anderson said..
Nelson and Pramaggiore said the rate-setting system would be necessary to ensure the companies can get a return on their investment. Upgraded grids would allow customers to save money in the long run and make any blackouts short and more infrequent, according to Nelson.
You can read Andrew's full report at: http://illinois.statehousenewsonline.com/5299/higher-electricity-rates-could-be-coming-2/