Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tweaks To Smart Grid Still Not Enough For Opponents

By Andrew Thomason,  Illinois Statehouse News
Lawmakers are trying to appease opponents of a measure to allow Illinois’ two largest utility companies to upgrade their infrastructure through automatic rate hikes but opponents say the efforts, so far, fall short.

State Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, rolled out a measure on the eve of the Legislature’s fall veto session that would modify the $3.2 billion, decade-long, infrastructure upgrade plan that Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a month earlier. Harmon's legislation would force Commonwealth Edison Co. to divert $200 million from upgrading the infrastructure to “storm hardening” current infrastructure. Additionally, the measure calls for all 2,450 full-time jobs that Commonwealth Edison and downstate Ameren Corp. promised to create to come from upgraded infrastructure. If the jobs were planned before the legislation was crafted, they wouldn't count.

Proponents of the legislation are hoping the tweaks Harmon unveiled Monday are enough to generate enough votes in the Legislature to override Quinn’s veto of the Smart Grip plan. The original measure passed through the General Assembly with votes of 67-47 in the House and 31-24 in the Senate. If bill proponents want to override Quinn’s veto, they need 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined Quinn when the governor vetoed the original legislation and continues to be critical of the legislation, changes or not. “Just like they tried to muscle this legislation through the spring session, ComEd and Ameren are at it again … If ComEd and Ameren’s proposal were actually a ‘smart’ deal for consumers, it would hold its own rather than be rushed through the process without public input,” Madigan said in a written statement after Monday’s committee hearing.

You can read Andrew's full report at:

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