CHICAGO, May 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP commends Governor Pat Quinn for his veto of Senate Bill 9 and urges the General Assembly to uphold it.
"AARP applauds Governor Quinn's decision to veto this premature and bad public policy that has nothing to do with infrastructure development or service improvement and everything to do with higher profits for the utility companies," said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. "AARP is adamantly opposed to the Illinois legislature's attempts to tip the legislative and regulatory balance in favor of the utility companies, allowing them to continue to dig deeper into consumers' pockets, and we are inviting our members and all Illinois consumers to join us in fighting against these unfair and unwarranted rate hikes."
SB 9 is follow up to the controversial 2011 legislation (SB1652) passed by the Illinois General Assembly writing utility company profits into state law by guaranteeing companies a return on equity of over 10 percent, and nearly automatic annual rate increases.
SB 9 further tilts the balance in favor of Illinois utility companies by allowing them to circumvent Illinois' regulatory process and avoid paying back a multi-million dollar rate cut ordered by the Illinois Commerce Commission last year. The language in SB 9 allows ComEd and Ameren to not only avoid paying refunds to consumers; it allows them to instead receive a retroactive rate hike with interest.
Illinois General Assembly passage of SB9 was premature since the utility's objections to the ICC rate cut decision are currently under consideration by the Illinois Appellate Court. SB9 also further ties the hands of the ICC by deeming ComEd and Ameren to be in compliance with their promised performance metrics, despite ComEd's delayed implementation of smart meters.
According to a 2012 AARP survey of Illinois members, 64 percent of the Association's 1.7 million members are concerned about affording their utilities. In addition to the potential electric rate hikes facing consumers with SB9, a number of other bills that could raise consumers' rates for natural gas, water and telephone service are also pending in Illinois General Assembly this session.
AARP has started traveling across Illinois to help inform citizens about these bills, their rights as consumers and help them fight back by contacting their legislators and urging them to stand up for their constituents. AARP will be hosting Say No to Rate Hikes town hall forums in Decatur on May 7, in Peoria on May 11, in Chicago on May 13 and 14, and will host events Springfield and Edwardsville on May 15 and 17, respectively.
Consumers can take action right now by calling, toll-free, 1-800-719-3020 to be connected to their legislators, or going online to http://saynotoratehikes.com, to send them a message and urge them to vote no on these bills. Illinoisans can register to attend events in Decatur, Peoria and Chicago online at AARP.cvent.com/saynotoratehikes or use the Twitter hashtag #affordableutilitiesnow to tweet if their rates are too high.
SOURCE AARP Illinois