DU QUOIN – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to provide relief to Illinoisans faced with skyrocketing electric rates. Senate Bill 1592 directs $1 billion in credits to electricity consumers across the state to help alleviate some of the burden of higher costs that came when utility and power companies began buying power through an auction process after a ten-year rate freeze expired at the beginning of the year. The new law eliminates the auction process and establishes a new state agency, the Illinois Power Agency, to plan for Illinois’ energy future and stabilize electric rates.
“More than two years ago, I voiced my strong opposition to the auction process because it was clear to me that it would benefit large utilities and their affiliates at the expense of consumers. The reverse auction was approved anyway, and I urged lawmakers to send me a bill that would make sure electric consumers wouldn’t be hit with shocking rate hikes. This bill is a good starting point. After carefully reviewing it, I believe it will provide immediate relief and put us in a position to keep working on longer-term electricity issues that need to be addressed to ensure that electricity in Illinois is affordable,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The Governor pointed to several long-term energy issues that were not dealt with in the rate legislation that he plans to keep working with lawmakers to address: making sure Ameren customers have the same protections ComEd customers have to receive compensation for losses that result from extended power outages; investing in clean coal technology to generate affordable electricity using local coal resources; and passing additional steps to prevent sky-high electric bills when the current rebates run out.
SB 1592 will provide $1 billion in rate relief to customers of utility companies over the next three years and help alleviate the rate hikes that went into effect on January 1, 2007. The bill will allow customers to receive a one-time rebate in 2007 ranging from $40 to $100 and small monthly credits, $4 to $14 per month, thereafter.
SB 1592, sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) and State Representative George Scully, Jr. (D-Crete), will create the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), which will create and oversee a new electricity procurement method in Illinois to stabilize electric rates and provide plans for the state’s energy future.
SB1592 also contains important elements of Gov. Blagojevich’s Energy Independence Plan that will benefit consumers, protect the environment and spur economic growth statewide. The bill includes a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires Illinois utilities to meet 25% of their customers’ electricity needs from renewable energy sources like wind power by 2025. The bill also requires utilities to dramatically boost their investments in energy saving programs and technologies that will help reduce rates for consumers, generate billions in economic activity and create thousands of jobs, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming.
“People all over this part of the state have been hit hard with staggering electric bills. We’ve seen businesses close their doors and families make big sacrifices because of the new rates. My top priority this session was to deliver relief from the high rates. I’m proud to be here today with Governor Blagojevich as he signs this carefully negotiated bill into law. People all over Illinois will soon feel the difference this new law will make,” said Senator Forby.
“This law is the result of months of negotiations between the members of the General Assembly, the Attorney General’s office and representatives of the utility companies. We all wanted one outcome, a victory for consumers, and that is what we have achieved with this legislation,” said Senate President Emil Jones, Jr.
SB 1592 will go into effect immediately.