Smart Grid is close to a two-year extension. The Illinois Senate voted in favor of this Thursday, as the House did two weeks ago. It essentially allows utility giants Ameren in southern Illinois and Com Ed in the Chicago area to raise rates to cover costs of new infrastructure without having to go through the Illinois Commerce Commission. It was the legislature's last action of the 98th General Assembly.
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State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet), critical of Ameren's Great Rivers underground transmission project, says the utilities are pigs at the trough, and the lawmakers are enabling them. “I would hope that the other legislators that voted for this never have to experience what my district did at the hands of this company,” Rose said after the vote. “These people have acted as horribly bad neighbors to the people that they serve. Horribly bad neighbors.”
Rose was one of only four senators who voted against the extension. The program would otherwise end in 2017; the bill pushes that back to 2019. H.B. 3925 has passed both chambers, but there is a motion to reconsider pending, effectively stopping the bill from going to the governor's desk. A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says further action is pending a “conversation” between Cullerton and the governor.