Illinois pushes forward on smart grid

Illinois lawmakers are pushing ahead on a smart grid initiative that passes most of the cost of the project on to the taxpayer. Under the terms of the bill, consumers will face increased surcharges on their utility bills to pay for the cost of a switch to a smart grid system. Governor Pat Quinn opposes the measure, stating he doesn’t believe that the cost of smart grid should be passed wholesale on to the consumer.

The measure addresses a $3.2 billion smart grid project that local utility companies have said they need significant concessions to move forward on. The Governor said he was against any such measure but the Senate went ahead with the trailer bill which will give significant concessions to the Commonwealth Edison Co. The Governor plans to fight the bill with the help of the state Attorney General.

State lawmakers are using the bill to override an earlier veto of these concessions issued by Governor Quinn.
“Legislators who accept lots and lots of campaign donations from utility companies want to write a law to raise consumer utility bills for the next decade,” Quinn said.

Supporters of the bill, including local utility companies say that the help is needed in order to offset the expense of this project and create much needed local jobs. Quinn has argued that the concessions make an end run around utility price regulations passing on sudden unfair rate hikes. The smart grid related fees are expected to add about $3 a month to an average consumer bill.