CFL News
May 07, 2013

Legislators Likely To Override Quinn's 'Smart Grid' Bill Veto

Source: Progress Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a measure Sunday, SB 9, that would hike customer electric rates in order for ComEd to digitize Illinois' electrical grid.

The measure, which would result in an annual consumer rate hike of $70 million, passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities, so there's still a chance the bill could move forward. State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the bill in the House, told the Chicago Sun-Timesthat he expects the governor’s veto to be overridden. The bill's Senate sponsor, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), is expected to ask for an override, his spokeswoman told the newspaper.

But a veto override would be a "bad idea," Quinn said, because "Stable energy prices are one of the best ways to attract new businesses and keep businesses and keep jobs."

Under the proposal, the average $82 per month ComEd bill for Illinois residents would go upabout 40 cents starting in 2014 and 80 cents in 2017. The customer rate hikes would bring in some $2.6 billion for ComEd over 10 years, with the funds targeted for the installment of smart meters and other revamps in its service territory of about 3.8 million customers.

The governor added on Sunday that he was saying "no" to the "unfairness" and the "unfortunate" process of utility companies going to the legislature when they do not receive something from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).

In response, Lang said lawmakers were approached after the utilities felt as if ICC misinterpreted the smart-grid bill. Cullerton's spokeswoman also said ICC had some input on the final measure.

The Chicago Federation of Labor also sounded off on Quinn's veto, releasing the following statement this morning:

The Chicago Federation of Labor is disappointed that Governor Quinn has vetoed Senate Bill 9, a bill that would have a positive economic benefit to working people in our state and modernize our energy infrastructure.

Programs like Smart Grid make our communities stronger by investing in needed infrastructure and strengthen our middle class by creating well-paying jobs for working men and women. In 2012, the Smart Grid program created 2,400 jobs in Illinois, proving that grid modernization is a substantial job-generating engine not only in the short-term, but for years to come.

The Chicago Federation of Labor supported the passage of the Smart Grid Law in 2011 and stands by it today. We urge the members of the Illinois General Assembly to continue to support this important program and override the veto on SB 9.