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Senate passes ComEd smart-grid resolution, raps Illinois Commerce Commission

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SPRINGFIELD-The full Illinois Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution that protests deep rate cuts imposed by state utility regulators that Commonwealth Edison says have hurt its efforts to modernize its electricity distribution grid.

The 47-4 vote, with two voting present, represents a shot at the Illinois Commerce Commission and gives the utility ammunition in its legal challenge to the commission's decisions on the smart-grid rate case.

The non-binding resolution "expresses the serious concern of the Senate over the Illinois Commerce Commission's orders implementing the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, commonly known as the smart-grid bill," said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), the resolution's chief sponsor.

Action in May and October by the ICC lowered rates such that ComEd will be getting about $100 million per year less than it is seeking to reinvest in modernization of its distribution system in 2014 and thereafter. The utility has challenged the ICC orders at the Illinois Appellate Court.

"The ICC once again has arbitrarily used some powers they were not given to stop this bill from going forward. By passing this resolution, once again, it's telling the ICC, 'Stay with your job. Regulate. Don't try to legislate,'" said Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago).

Even though the Citizens Utility Board and AARP of Illinois opposed the resolution, no one stood in opposition during discussion of the resolution on the Senate floor.

The four "no" votes were Sen. Dan Duffy (R-Barrington Hills), Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Sen. Shane Cultra (R-Onarga).

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