CUB says ruling to slash rate hike will save consumers $337 million per year
The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) on Friday commended state regulators for slashing a proposed increase in ComEd/Exelons delivery rates by about 98 percent, a move that will provide the company with more than enough money to maintain safe and reliable service and pay stockholders a generous profit.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), led by Chairman Charles Box, issued an order granting an $8.3 million increase to the Chicago-based utility. The company had sought a $345.5 million rate hike, even though CUB, the Cook County States Attorneys Office, the Illinois Attorney Generals office, and the ICCs own staff had argued that no increase was justified.
The Commissions move will save consumers about $337 million per year in future rates, or about $91 a year for its 3.7 million customers.
Were pleased the ICC stood up to ComEds money grab, CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. The commissions ruling supports what weve said all alongthat ComEd can remain financially sound and provide safe and reliable service without slapping consumers with a big rate increase.
The delivery rates, which account for about onethird of a typical residential electric bill, cover ComEd/Exelons costs of running the business, maintaining the distribution system, and paying a profit to stockholders. Current rates include those delivery costs, plus the actual cost of power. But beginning in 2007, the two charges will be separated on bills.
The ICC last set delivery rates in 2002, but consumers never paid the increase because rates have been frozen since 1997. That rate freeze is set to expire at the end of this year, and ComEd/Exelon wants to use a controversial auction plan to fix energy prices for the next three years.
Under the auction, which CUB has appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court, rates could jump as much as 40 percent.
In addition to challenging the auction in court, CUB is urging state lawmakers to extend the rate freeze through 2009 and to maintain state oversight of electric prices until at least 33 percent of residential customers have a competitive option to their local electric company.
CUB is a nonprofit statewide utility watchdog organization created by the Illinois Legislature to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. For more information about CUB and its efforts to protect consumers, call CUBs Consumer Hotline at 1-800-669-5556 or visit www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.
From the Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 2006, issue