Chicago-area residents to see break on electric bill next month thanks to new law

A new Illinois law that critics feared would deliver a billion-dollar electricity rate increase will instead bring consumers a billion-dollars worth of reductions.

Consumer groups expect electric bills to drop by nearly 12 percent, starting next month. The Citizens Utility Board expects the typical ComEd consumer will save $237 over the next 12 months.

"We credit the governor for thinking ahead and putting into the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act these consumer protections to protect people from high energy prices," said CUB spokesman Jim Chilsen.

The owner of Illinois's nuclear power plants, Baltimore-based Constellation, was threatening to shut down several of them, unless rate-payers provided a subsidy.


The state of Illinois finally agreed, but added a little-noticed provision that, should prices suddenly spike up, consumers would share in Constellation's windfall.

"It only made sense that if they had more in terms of revenue coming in that we should give it back to consumers," said Illinois Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

Business groups and other opponents originally fought the proposal, estimating that consumers faced a billion-dollar rate increase all in the name of slowing down climate change by preserving a carbon-free alternative to coal, oil and natural gas-fired power.

Watchdogs said a typical electricity user pays about $85-per-month.

Beginning June 1, they said that should drop to about $75-a-month in Chicago and the suburbs, in sharp contrast to big increases hitting almost everywhere else in America.

"Power prices are going up across the country. And, because of the climate and Equitable Jobs Act, ComEd bills are actually going down this summer, not up," Chilsen said.