September 12, 2011
To the Honorable
Members of the
I commend the General
Assembly for their important work on this legislation and I pledge to continue
working with lawmakers in the coming months.
For more than 100
years, our State has regulated electric utilities to protect consumers from
higher energy bills and unfair utility costs. When the citizens of Illinois pay their utility bills, they do so with the expectation that the payments are
used for reliable, dependable and affordable service. I share their expectation
and cannot support a measure that places the profits of electric utilities
ahead of the people of Illinois.
Senate Bill 1652
represents a drastic departure from a long tradition of Illinois laws
protecting consumers against high energy bills. In particular, this bill grants
unprecedented advantages to Illinois utilities that have a less than stellar
record for providing reliable service. Recent storms in the Chicago area
exposed significant service shortcomings and more than 1.5 million people suffered
through lengthy and widespread outages. Local businesses and consumers who
depend on regular, predictable electricity suffered enormously. These
interruptions impose a profound hardship on the State’s economy and are simply
More troubling is
that while customers suffer service interruptions and higher rates, these same
utilities have been in Springfield advocating for a bill that erodes meaningful
consumer protections. These utilities have been trying to dramatically change
the rules to guarantee annual rate increases, while eliminating accountability
for, literally, leaving people in the dark.
The bill before me
strips away vital oversight and allows these utilities to benefit from
unnecessary costs, higher corporate profits, and inherently flawed performance standards.
For example, Senate Bill 1652 ties utility profits to the number of outages
they can avoid each year; however, the bill also excludes the nine worst storms
from this calculation. By doing so, this bill rewards unacceptable service.
Senate Bill 1652
would also establish a formula rate that allows vast profits for the electric utilities
without effective performance metrics. Illinois ratepayers will be forced to
pay billions in rate hikes, while receiving the same subpar service they have
for many years. I will not support a measure that contains sweetheart deals for
big utilities, which could leave struggling consumers to pick up the tab for
costs such as lobbying fees and executive bonuses.
I support regulatory
reforms that ensure necessary, innovative investments in our electric grid.
However, I will not compromise core safeguards for Illinois consumers. Our
State can encourage substantial investments in our electric grid that will
create lasting jobs, promote environmentally-friendly policies, and make Illinois a leader in the clean energy economy, while maintaining our place as a leader in
In the coming weeks, I
look forward to supporting a bill that achieves these goals. I encourage
members of the General Assembly to consider the plan put forth by the Illinois
Commerce Commission, filed as House Amendment #3 to House Bill 14. This bill represents
a good faith effort toward modernizing the grid, reforming our regulatory
system, and protecting the ratepayers of our State.
Therefore, pursuant to Article
IV, Section 9(b) of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I return Senate Bill 1652
to the Illinois Senate, entitled “AN ACT concerning public utilities.” with the
foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.