Governor Pat Quinn yesterday vetoed Senate Bill 9, which would have allowed Illinois’ large electric utilities to undermine the state’s oversight and enact an estimated $70 million rate hike. However, the measure passed each house with a veto-proof majority. In the House, the vote was 86-28 in favor (with 3 voting present). In the Senate, the vote was 44-9 in favor (with 1 voting present).
The veto is mostly symbolic on Governor Quinn’s part in that it will likely be overridden. The governor, who is viewed as a “populist governor,” 30 years ago spearheaded creation of the Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) – Illinois’ largest consumer advocacy group. The Governor noted that the bill would circumvent more than a century of state oversight of electric utilities, in addition to the rate hikes.
Com Ed said in a statement that the money from the rate hike will be used for the Smart Grid. In a statement Com Ed said, “This bill would get the Smart Grid back on track and allow ComEd to build a modern grid to reduce power outages, give customers more choice and control over their energy use, and create thousands of much-needed jobs.”
Governor Quinn differed.
“I cannot support legislation that puts the profits of big electric utilities ahead of the families and businesses of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. “A strong economy that creates jobs requires stable energy costs, but this bill sends Illinois in the wrong direction. We cannot allow big utilities to force automatic rate hikes on the people of Illinois by going around oversight authorities each and every time they do not get the decision they want.”
Senate Bill 9 was pushed by the utilities in response to Illinois Commerce Commission rulings last year. The commission denied proposed rate hikes that weren’t needed for the utilities to make promised investments, and would cost Illinois’ families and businesses too much. Senate Bill 9 circumvents the commission’s well-established oversight authority and puts several of those rate hikes into Illinois law.
If the bill were to become law, the bill would continue a troubling, unprecedented pattern of departing from more than a century of regulatory oversight of utility company monopolies in Illinois.
The Illinois Commerce Commission’s mission is “to pursue an appropriate balance between the interest of consumers and existing and emerging service providers to ensure the provision of adequate, efficient, reliable, safe and least-cost public utility services.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.