Electricity Rate Debate

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Our electric rates haven't changed for the past decade. But January 1st the freeze that held them in place will end. The issue has state politicians divided.

The question is whether or not to extend the freeze another three years. It’s a question so big that politicians who normally follow the same party line are facing off against each other. The freeze was put in place to help competitors challenge the giants of the Illinois Electric Industry, ComEd and Amaren. But no one stepped forward. Now ComEd officials say the company's cost to buy electricity has gotten so high, they will go bankrupt if the freeze extends. They hope to raise consumer costs in this region by almost 25%. Two local republicans are surprisingly opposed on the matter.

34th District Representative Dave Syverson(R) "We ought to maintain or regulate that monopoly longer until we know that there is a comfort level with competition or that the rates are in line for what the consumers can handle.”

68th District Representative Dave Winters(R) states, “What's to say at the end of three years we'll have competitors in the market? We're forcing ComEd to sell it below their cost of production. Who in their right mind would come in and offer an alternative power supply if they can't recover their costs?"

Winters worries the freeze would drive ComEd out of business and leave consumers without power. But Syverson says people just can't pay the price increase. Some lawmakers are calling for a special session to decide the matter. If the issue does not go to vote before the end of this year, the rate hike will start January 1st.


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