As Springfield mulls costly energy initiatives, ComEd bills already heading up

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Your electric bills are going up.

Commonwealth Edison today filed with state regulators for a $51 million power-delivery rate hike to take effect at the start of next year. Coupled with a separate and larger hike in ComEd’s transmission rates, which are regulated by the federal government, and anticipated higher power prices taking effect in June, the total increase for the average household will be in the neighborhood of $1.60 per month, the utility said today.

That will raise the average monthly household electric bill to about $83.

The delivery rate hike is ComEd’s first in four years and comes as lawmakers in Springfield are about to consider wide-ranging energy legislation. Among the issues on the table are how to regulate ComEd’s rates in the future.

ComEd currently has its rates set each year under a formula first enacted in 2011. That formula places significant constraints on the Illinois Commerce Commission in terms of making substantial changes to what ComEd proposes. It has been the subject of intense controversy since July of last year when ComEd admitted to an influence peddling and bribery scheme aimed at winning the favor of former House Speaker Michael Madigan. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has called for ending formula rates and returning to the old way of regulation in which utilities filed for increases at a time of their choosing and regulators took 11 months to consider them.

Under current law, the formula rate will expire after next year.

The $51 million hike will add about 20 cents per month to the average household bill, ComEd said in a release. Transmission rates—the amount customers pay to transport electricity over high-voltage lines from power plants to the local grid—will add about 70 cents. And a higher power price for customers who buy from ComEd will add another 70 cents.

ComEd profits on delivery and transmission but passes along the cost of the juice itself at no markup. Most of these increases will take effect in June, with the delivery hike effective next January.

These increases also come as the various proposals before the Legislature aimed at producing a carbon-free power generation industry in Illinois in the coming would hike customer bills in order to subsidize nuclear plants that otherwise would close and to finance more solar power and wind farms.

The pandemic has substantially increased the amount by which hard-hit customers are behind of their electric bills. Under state law, bad debt is passed along to ratepayers, and ComEd bears little risk. So electric bills are likely to increase even more to absorb the cost of uncollectibles.

Finally, a 2016 law allows ComEd to profit on energy-efficiency programs, which are financed by a surcharge on customer bills. If past is prologue, ComEd will hike that charge by about $50 million toward the end of the year, which would add another 20 cents or so to the average bill.

via Crain’s Chicago Business https://ift.tt/1mywUHL

April 16, 2021 at 01:17PM

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