Gov. vetoes measure making it easier to increase electric rates

May 6, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn vetoed legislation Sunday that would have eased the way for increases in electric rates. But it's not the first time he's opposed this sort of thing, and the legislature has so far been able to work around him. IPR’S Brian Mackey has more.

The legislation applies to Illinois' big electric utilities: ComEd and Ameren. They're trying to secure a rate hike in order to pay for upgrading their power distribution system to what they're calling a "smart grid."Normally, the utilities have to go through a state regulator, but that agency has said no to rate hikes. So ComEd and Ameren have been trying a different strategy.

"The utilities, every time now that they get an adverse decision from the Illinois Commerce Commission, they run off to the legislature and try and overrule it. This isn't healthy at all."

At a news conference in Chicago, Quinn made a show of brandishing what he described as his official veto stamp.

"So that's what we're going to do (*thunk*) right now."

It's not the first time Quinn vetoed smart-grid legislation. The utilities have been successful at doing an end-run around him, too. The rate-hike legislation passed both the House and Senate with more than enough votes to overrule Quinn's veto, and supporters are expected to try again.