by Dave Dahl with Todd Wineburner
The override is complete of the governor's veto of a bill described as a follow-up to the “smart grid” utility modernization.
The Illinois House, with the minimum 71 Yes votes needed, followed the Senate's action in the override. State Rep. Lou Lang sponsored the override in the House and saying that when the governor vetoed the bill, he did it very emphatically; some of you may have seen that on the news. He said the General Assembly should not get in the way of the (Illinois) Commerce Commission. But I have a different story to tell: the story is that the Commerce Commission does not make public policy in this state; the Illinois General Assembly makes policy, and they ought to follow the policy we set.”
In an e-mailed statement, Ameren Illinois president Richard Mark said: “Members of the General Assembly have been steadfast in calling for the development of an energy delivery system that meets today's needs and prepares the state for future economic growth. I want to thank the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives for their support. This action will benefit consumers, create jobs, and inject new life into economies in Central and Southern Illinois.”
In an e-mailed statement from his press office, Quinn said: “Today’s unfortunate vote forces electric utility rate hikes on families and businesses all across Illinois. I am disappointed that the General Assembly did not protect consumers from overreaching by utility monopolies like ComEd and Ameren. This is bad for families, businesses and our economy. Thirty years ago, I spearheaded the drive to create the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer watchdog that today agrees this rate increase approved by the General Assembly is unjustified.”
SB 9 has survived the governor's veto, 71-41-5 in the House.
Senator Jason Barickman agreed with the governor’s veto. Barickman and 10 other Senators voted against the proposal, but ultimately lost the battle, and the bill moved on to the House. “There is a process in place for utility companies to go to the I.C.C., ask for a rate increase, prove their case, and hold public hearings, all before increases can be granted,” Barickman says. “Essentially the legislature just decided to strip the I.C.C. of its oversight authority. This will cost consumer’s dearly.”