IL Lawmaker Wants State Utility Regulators to Hear Public Testimony

March 16, 2009

The state's utility regulators have a years' worth of documents at their fingertips when they vote on the prices utility companies can charge their customers. But some lawmakers say members of the Illinois Commerce Commission need an earful of information, too.

Democratic Representative Bob Flider of Decatur compares it to a court case. Lawyers provide the jury with a lot of paperwork, but the jury also gets to hear testimony. He says its a level of understanding that members of the Illinois Commerce Commission often don't get. For example, last year the ICC denied a request from the Attorney General to make an oral argument against Ameren raising its rates.

"So they think they have these documents, they have the recommendations, 'oh we don't need to hear any of that," Flider said. "Well, maybe they do need to hear that."

Flider is sponsor of a measure now before the Illinois House that would require the Commission grant all requests from entities wanting to testify at hearings that could result in rate or regulation changes. The Attorney General's office says the legislation will give consumers a greater voice. An ICC spokesperson says it's reviewing the proposal. She says commissioners have written arguments, they'll hear testimony if they have questions.

Story source: AP