Op-ed: Gov. Pritzker and his party set to force massive utility rate increase

On Thursday afternoon, Illinois legislators got their first glimpse of what an energy package may look like as they are set to reconvene in Springfield early this week to consider energy-related legislation. Unfortunately, it appears as though the Democrats and Governor Pritzker are cooking up a plan that’s more about a massive rate increase, than providing for Illinois’ real energy needs. The proposal on the table would mean ratepayers could end up paying 20 percent more on their utility bills.

Legislation has not been filed yet and the nuances are fluid, but here’s what the final plan is shaping up to look like:

First, the Democrats are preparing to bail out the Exelon/Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) companies, even as ComEd is currently under indictment for having orchestrated a massive bribery scheme in Springfield. That proposed bailout could be as large as $700 million in subsidies for their power-generating facilities—that’s more than three times the fine ComEd was forced to pay the federal government for its corrupt actions. And of course, it’ll be hardworking families and businesses on the hook to pay for it, as rates will no doubt increase drastically.

Also, the Democrats are proposing to close downstate power plants, including Prairie State Energy Campus and Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power, costing Illinoisans thousands of jobs. The closures would also reduce our state’s power capacity, require us to go outside of the state to find power, and ultimately increase the prices consumers pay.

Third, the proposal would authorize a company to take private property to build a transmission line. In a practice known as “Eminent Domain,” property owners in the path of the proposed transmission line would have no choice but to surrender their property to the company.

Finally, the plan exempts renewable energy investors from ethics rules that would apply to others in the industry. Why? Well, we don’t know for sure, but common sense dictates it’s much easier to fix outrageously high prices and rates of return for wealthy, politically-connected investors if there’s no disclosure or transparency requirements.

The State Senate is scheduled to return to the Capitol on Tuesday to vote on a proposal. Between now and then, I will be urging the Democrats to focus on an energy policy that provides an affordable and reliable supply of power to Illinois, as opposed to a plan that fuels even more corruption.

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