Saturday, September 16, 2006

Legislators gone wild, deregulation in Illinois

Next to Maryland's 70 percent electricity rate hike, you'd think no one would even notice increases in the 20-50 percent range, but Ameren and Commonwealth Edison customers in Illinois are going to the mattresses.

On January 2, 2007, Illinois's nine-year rate-freeze will end, allowing the state's utilities to charge rates commensurate with the auction prices they pay electricity suppliers. According to ComEd, the rates its customers will pay in January will be 3 percent lower than they paid before the rate freeze in 1995 -- but still 20 percent higher than what they pay today.

The company has floated a plan to stagger the increases by 10 percent per year with customers paying deferred fees and interest off between 2010 and 2012. The watchdog group Citizens Utility Board rejects this idea as a "high-cost loan, which won't help consumers."

Meanwhile, the Illinois attorney general and the state's political machine are all swinging into gear to end this outrage -- a situation that sounds even more expensive and less efficient than the Maryland solution of designating a scapegoat and firing it.

Stay tuned...

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