PEORIA | DECATUR | MARION | BELLEVILLE – October 6, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today urged lawmakers to protect consumers from massive electric rate hikes by upholding his veto of Senate Bill 1652 in the upcoming fall legislative session. The Governor also encouraged the public to visit SayNoToRateHikes.org to join the fight against higher electric rates for substandard service.
“When I vetoed this bill, I said that we need to make sure consumers are getting the quality service they already pay for, instead of being forced to foot much higher bills for executive bonuses and lobbyist fees that don’t do anything to improve Illinois’ power grid,” Governor Quinn said. “More than 1.5 million people and businesses have had to deal with power outages and services disruptions this summer, and now these same utilities are trying to change the rules to guarantee themselves annual rate increases and eliminate real accountability.”
The legislation would strike more than 100 years of Illinois consumer protection law and weaken the oversight ability of the Illinois Commerce Commission to rein in excessive rate hikes that will heavily burden consumers and disproportionately harm seniors, minorities and low-incomes households. Without adequate oversight and effective performance metrics, Illinois ratepayers will be forced to pay billions in rate hikes, while potentially receiving the same subpar service they have for many years.
Senate Bill 1652 also gives unprecedented advantages to Illinois utilities that have less-than-stellar records for providing reliable service. Recent storms in the Chicago area exposed significant service shortcomings when more than 1.5 million people suffered through lengthy and widespread outages. Local businesses and consumers who depend on regular, predictable electricity suffered enormously.
The stated purpose of the bill is to allow the implementation of Smart Grid technology, which the Governor and many advocates support in concept as part of an overall strategy to make Illinois a leader in the clean energy economy. But Senate Bill 1652 puts too heavy of a burden on consumers at a time when they aren’t getting the service quality they are already paying for each month. In addition to locking-in extremely high profits in exchange for lower risk by the utility, the measure also includes provisions that have nothing to do with improving service and could stick ratepayers with the cost of executive bonuses and lobbying fees.
The Governor’s veto was supported by AARP, the Citizens Utility Board, Citizen Action/Illinois, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and many business and consumer groups. Along with the state’s other leading consumer advocates, Governor Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan are urging consumers to contact their legislators and convince them to uphold the veto.
The Governor also emphasized his support for reforms proposed by the Illinois Commerce Commission that move Illinois towards the goal of modernizing the electric grid, reforming the regulatory system and protecting rate payers. House Amendment # 3 to House Bill 14 represents a good faith effort toward modernizing the grid, reforming our regulatory system, and protecting Illinois’ ratepayers.
For more information on how to get involved in stopping rate hikes, visit www.SayNoToRateHikes.org.