Consumer advocates are pressing Illinois lawmakers not to override the governor’s veto of electricity legislation. They’re armed with a survey purporting to show that the public thinks its electricity is reliable enough, doesn’t want to pay more even if it means upgraded technology, and will vote against lawmakers who support the legislation, says Bob Gallo, state director of AARP.
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“After a summer riddled with power outages and refrigerators full of spoiled food, combined with increased taxes, declining home values and increased costs for everything for gas to groceries, the public support for an electric rate increase is completely dismal,” he said at a press conference Sunday at AARP state headquarters in Chicago. The bill in question provides for an upgrade of the electricity delivery system, but consumer groups say it also makes it much easier for Ameren and Com Ed to raise rates. Under current law, utility companies can petition the Illinois Commerce Commission for a rate increase. They must provide evidence to support their case, and outside groups, such as consumer organizations, may submit testimony in opposition. Under this bill, the electric companies would still have to petition for rate increases, but the Commerce Commission would follow have to follow a formula. Outside groups would be allowed to object, the burden would be on them to demonstrate why the formula should not apply.
The governor vetoed the measure last month. The electric companies are campaigning for lawmakers to override the veto, while the governor and his allies, including the lieutenant governor and attorney general, want to see the veto upheld.