Governor Pat Quinn today 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. The governor, who 30 years ago spearheaded creation of the Citizens' Utility Board (CUB) - Illinois' largest consumer advocacy group - noted that the bill would circumvent more than a century of state oversight of electric utilities.
"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."
The rate hike proposed in this bill would be in addition to a $311 million rate hike Commonwealth Edison proposed to the Illinois Commerce Commission just last week. Combined with another rate hike filed with the federal government, the two amount to about $6 per month for the average utility customer.