Hartigan opposes ComEd’s rate hike

By Dina Paluzzi

Commonwealth Edison’s 27 percent rate hike proposal submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission in August is undergoing opposition from Attorney General Neil Hartigan’s office.

Jeanne Marie Shultz, press secretary for Hartigan’s office, said Hartigan filed a second petition to the proposal Oct. 30. A first petition was filed during the end of August, Shultz said.

Edison spokesman John Hogan said Edison needs the rate increase to pay for three nuclear plants.

Edison is undergoing an audit to allow the ICC to investigate findings of incorrectly spent funds.

Shultz said Hartigan thinks the audits will help fight the increase proposed by Edison. “The audits will show the mistakes CE is responsible for,” Shultz said.

The ICC is scheduled to begin audit hearings in December and have a ruling by next July, Hogan said.

In the petition filed by Hartigan, he argued that the provision of the Illinois Public Utilities Act, which requires audits, has priority over the section requiring the ICC to rule within 11 months after a rate increase request is filed. “The ICC was asked which takes precedent,” Shultz said.

ogan said the audits should be completed by the end of the year, although he said there was some concern that the audits would not be finished.

The ICC has also expressed a concern about the audits not being completed on time, Shultz said.

She said the audits are important, because under the IPUA, when the ICC allows the electric company to build a plant there is a certain amount required for the consumer to pay.

“We are looking to see what it would be,” Shultz said, adding the attorney general’s office wants to keep the increase down as much as possible. “We’d prefer to have no increase.”

The new plants, which are in need of funding, are Byron Unit II and Braidwood Units I and II, Hogan said.

Shultz said the audit for the Byron Unit is scheduled to be completed in the spring and for the Braidwood Unit I in late summer, while auditing on the Braidwood Unit II has not yet begun.

ogan said the new plants are not paid for until they are in full operation.

The first proposal—asking for a 9.6 percent increase, followed by a minimum five-year rate increase freeze and a 20 percent average decrease in summer bills—was denied.

The ICC reasoned that there was doubt about the justification of the increase and because it found Edison incorrectly spent funds.