The consumer groups AARP Illinois and Citizens Utility Board are organizing a campaign against utility companies’ legislative efforts at the Capitol. AARP says older people pay an average of 9 percent of their income on utilities. The two groups say the parent companies of utilities such as Ameren Illinois and Com Ed want to circumvent the rate-making process by changing state law.
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“We’ve lost to the (Illinois) Commerce Commission several times,” says Dean Clough of Rochester, Ill., regional volunteer director for AARP Illinois. “I don’t believe we’ve ever tried to go over their head to the legislature, and that’s what they’re trying to do.” But Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris says the consume groups’ concerns are overblown: “There’s the assurance of annual review and the performance-based formula rate process does provide for recovery on the reasonable and prudent cost the utility has incurred and eliminates the uncertainty that the current rate process inherently has in it; a rate process, I would add, that was created in the 1930s,” he said.