Heated debate continues over ComEd rate hike: 'Enough is enough!'

FOX 32 NEWS - ComEd says it only wants to charge you $3 more a year for electricity. Critics, though, claim the company's proposal in Springfield would cost a typical consumer $50 more each year.

The latest version of the electric utility rate hike won approval from an Illinois House committee Tuesday, prompting owners of Chicago's biggest high-rises to deliver a grim warning.

“This is still a very bad bill,” said BOMA Energy Consultant Michael Munson.

Munson represents 234 high-rise, office buildings. Tenants include 10,000 employers with 350,000 employees. They've recently been clobbered by hundreds of millions of dollars in annual property tax increases. Energy is now their second highest cost.

And with Com Ed and its parent company, Exelon, seeking a $900 million rate increase, including a subsidy for two Downstate nuclear power plants, high-rise owners say, "No fair!"

“There is no subsidy for empty office space,” said Ron Tabaczynski of BOMA.

The cost of energy has been a competitive advantage here. Munson says since 2008, prices in Illinois' deregulated market have fallen 13 percent, while rising in other, more-regulated Midwestern states by 6 percent to as much as 23 percent. 

ComEd/Exelon argues more than price: its nukes deserve a subsidy, for providing power without emitting greenhouse gases. A consumer watchdog says the subsidy is a worthwhile tradeoff for other things included in the 484-page bailout bill.

“If this bill passes, we'll see a minimum of 1,300 megawatts of new wind built in the State of Illinois. And we'll see a minimum of 3,000 megawatts of solar. And that's very encouraging,” said David Kolata of CUB.

“If you increase these costs for the benefit of a company that made $2 billion last year and $841 million just in the last quarter, you're just benefiting a private company at the expense of all the ratepayers. And I think that's what everybody up here is saying, "No, no. Enough is enough!" said Dave Lundy of Better Energy Solutions for Tomorrow.

ComEd and Exelon are pushing the General Assembly to approve the bailout bill this week.

Exelon says that, without a subsidy, it will close one Downstate nuclear power plant next June and another in 2018.