Rate cuts need talk to win out

By Tammy Sholer

A 20 percent cut in monthly summer rates for Commonwealth Edison customers will fail to pass if discussion by the Illinois Commerce Commission on a compromise proposal terminates today.

The original proposal also consisted of a 9.6 percent increase for non-summer months with a subsequent five year rate-freeze. The new compromise proposal adds the allowance for audits on Illinois nuclear generators.

If the ICC votes to end discussions of the compromise rate-freeze plan by 1 p.m., all rates will remain at their present level for now, John Hogan, Edison spokesman, said.

Because Edison petitioned the ICC to have an oral argument, the formal vote was postponed, said ICC Public Information Officer Beth Bosch. She said the argument might change the commissioners’ votes which were informally against the proposal.

If the revised plan does not pass, rates will still increase—just in a different form, Hogan said. He said Edison asked for a 9.6 percent increase rather than a 27 percent increase because the company believed the smaller increase would be more popular with consumers and the ICC.

The ICC did not formally approve the lower increase because Edison did not justify the need to raise rates, Hogan said. Because the lower rate was not as popular as first believed, Edison might ask for a 27 percent increase under the traditional rate setting procedures, he said.

If Edison requests the higher increase, the ICC will review the request for a year and grant funds for justified needs, Bosch said.

The 27 percent increase would not have a rate freeze for any time period, but the increase could be “phased in,” Bosch said. This would slowly increase the rate each time until the entire increase is reached, she said.

ogan said two out of three Illinois nuclear generators are being audited to see if the company wasted $7.1 billion on their construction.

If the ICC finds Edison was imprudent with its funds, it will rule that consumers be reimbursed, Hogan said. “However, the plants have to be paid for in some way,” Bosch said.

ogan said, “Edison asked that the rate-freeze plan be implemented as the audit continues.” If the ICC decides to keep the case open, then talks might continue to enact the proposed plan, he said.

Passage of the proposal would mean average electricity consumers—those using about 400 kilowatthours (kwh), would see a 20 percent (or about $12) reduction in their monthly summer bill, Hogan said. However, consumers using 900 kwh or more will not see a decrease and might even have an increase in their summer bills, he said.

esidential customers paying $67.90 per month would see their summer bills drop to $55.80 per month if the proposal is passed, Hogan said.