Citizen board urges Com Ed return charges

By Stephan L. Lopes

The Citizen’s Utility Board urged state regulators on Wednesday to order Commonwealth Edison to return more than $158 million to consumers because of 1988 overcharges.

The overcharges were to residential customers billed from June to December 1988.

The overcharges were a result of “rate restructuring” approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission in June 1988. During closing arguments before the ICC on Wednesday, CUB attorneys asked it to “right the wrong” it committed when it gave Com Ed an unwarranted windfall in June 1988.

CUB, appealing the restructuring, argued the plan gave Edison an undeserved revenue increase. In December, the Illinois Appellate Court agreed the rates were illegal and in June, the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case, clearing the way for refunds.

“The courts have spoken and it’s time for the ICC to do the right thing and make Edison refund all the money it owes the consumers,” said Martin Cohen, CUB associate director.

CUB estimates the refund to be $50 to $75 per household.

Edison has wanted to keep the bulk of the money and return only $5.7 million. They convinced the ICC officer handling the case to accept that proposal.

CUB has requested the commission reject its staff’s decision and order the entire refund of $158 million, plus interest.

Edison has promised the court it would refund all the overcharges if the rate structure was overturned, according to CUB President Josh Hoyt.

“We’ve won in the courts and it’s now time for the ICC to make Edison live up to its promise and refund the money it owes consumers,” Hoyt said.