Ill. Senate OKs changes to electricity measure | St. Louis Public Radio

Ill. Senate OKs changes to electricity measure

Oct 25, 2011

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

The Illinois Senate has approved changes intended to help revive electricity legislation vetoed by the governor.

The changes passed 37-20 Tuesday, despite opposition from Gov. Pat Quinn.

At issue is a plan to let power companies raise rates to pay for infrastructure improvements, including high-tech changes called "Smart Grid." Critics say the plan guarantees unfair profits and weakens state regulators.

Now supporters are trying to pass a "trailer bill" that addresses some complaints, such as the size of profits. The idea is that if these changes are approved, a few additional lawmakers may be willing to override Quinn's veto of the underlying plan.

Gov. Pat Quinn says the changes haven't weakened his opposition to the legislation and that the changes simply "paper over'' problems that make the bill bad for Illinois consumers.

"And I want to warn the people of Illinois that the Illinois Commerce Commission, which has existed for over a century, and it's set up by law to be independent of the utility companies, is in grave jeopardy here because legislators who accept lots and lots of campaign donations from utility companies want to write a law to raise the consumer utility bills for the next decade," Quinn said."This is a very bad thing."

The override would succeed in the Senate if it gets support from everyone who voted for the trailer bill Tuesday.