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Quinn Vetoes Bill to Raise Illinois Electric Rates

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed legislation to increase electric rates for consumers across the state.

The measure was part of a $3 billion, 10-year plan to give Commonwealth Edison and Ameren money for infrastructure improvements and a modern Smart Grid. The bill does not guarantee higher electricity prices, but any future hikes could take effect immediately - rather than first going through a lengthy review.

Quinn's action came as no surprise as he already pledged to veto it, saying the legislation didn't have enough consumer protections and would unfairly raise electric rates.

"It may be a dream come true for Commonwealth Edison, but it's a nightmare for consumers in Illinois," Quinn said. "I think we want to make it clear to the public that they should not be gauged with paying unfair rates for something that they don't really feel is delivering better service."

Quinn urged lawmakers Monday to let his veto stand and said everyone should go back to the bargaining table. He said the starting point should be a plan put forth by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates utility rate increases.

ComEd said opponents were off base about the legislation known as Senate Bill 1652 or SB1652.

"Despite the rhetoric of the legislation opponents, SB1652 does not guarantee profits, will not result in automatic rates increases and does not strip the authority of the ICC," ComEd said in a statement. "Illinois customers want more than the status quo. We look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to help make grid modernization and economic growth a reality in Illinois."

Ameren Illinois spokesman Leigh Morris said he is disappointed with the governor's decision to veto the legislation.

Morris said among the changes tied to modernizing the state's electrical distribution system would be fewer power outages, an additional 700 thousand smart meters, and improved energy efficiency.

"Because of the regulatory process that we would have to follow without this legislation, it would take at least 30 years to archive what we could do in 10 years with this legislation," he said.

Morris said Ameren is optimistic that there will be enough support in the General Assembly to override the governor's veto.