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Local Government Mon Jul 07 2014

Illinois AG Takes Aim at ComEd Rate-Hike Request

8872944622_a33f5342fa_o.jpg
Photo by Arvell Dorsey Jr. via Flickr

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to block part of Commonwealth Edison's latest rate-hike request, saying it violates state law.

Madigan accused ComEd of asking customers to pay for $87.9 million in employee bonuses -- an illegal practice in Illinois, she said.

"Employees are allowed to have incentive-based bonuses, but they need to be based on customer service improvements," Madigan said. "They cannot be based on how well the company has done vis-à-vis Exelon shareholders."

ComEd
, a division of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., employs roughly 6,000 people. Madigan's office said the bonuses, tied to Exelon stock, were uncovered in ComEd's rate hike request before the Illinois Commerce Commission.

The bonuses are part of ComEd's latest request with regulators to recover $275 million in costs of delivering electricity to homes and businesses across Illinois.

Madigan said shareholders - not customers - should foot the bill for the employee bonuses in question and recommended ComEd's latest rate-hike request be cut by 36 percent, or $100 million, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

A ComEd spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune it could not make an executive available for comment, as the company was busy dealing with power outages from Monday's storm.

ComEd's 2014 rate hike added about $5.50 to the average customer's monthly bill. This latest request, filed in April, is the utility's fourth rate-hike request based on a formula established by a law passed in 2011 to modernize the electrical grid.

ComEd has said modernizing the electrical grid with new digital technology would allow for automatic equipment repair during outages, elimination of meter readers and reduction of electricity theft. ComEd also said the addition of smart meters - set for completion around 2018-- would give consumers greater control over their energy usage and bills.

If the ICC approves ComEd's most recent rate-hike request, it would go into effect in January 2015 and would add $3 to the average monthly electricity bill, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

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