Watchdogs: ComEd moving to raise electric bills by at least $150M per year

Some in the Chicago area pay more for utility bills each year than for City Hall's hated property tax. Well, hold on to your wallet. As FOX 32’s Political Editor Mike Flannery reports, watchdogs say ComEd is moving to raise our electric bills by at least $150 million a year.

Critics of Com Ed and its parent, Exelon, slammed its proposal to make consumers pay more, pointing to big profits the company reported Friday.

“Exelon made $632 million in their first quarter. You know, if you annualize that, it'd be $2.5 billion,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Those profits were bigger than expected on Wall Street. The electric power company's stock has risen nearly 30 percent this year. But Exelon claims two Downstate nuclear power plants have lost a combined $800 million in the last six years. If the General Assembly does not meet its demands in the current spring legislative session, Exelon said the nuke in Clinton, Illinois will close June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities generator by June 1, 2018.

About 1,400 jobs are at stake. The company blames a decline in all energy prices. Critics say dramatic advances in energy efficiency mean there's simply less demand for electricity.

“Commonwealth Edison's demand is going down. Supply exceeds demand in the market. And that's why those plants aren't economic,” Learner said.

ComEd/Exelon's proposed legislation would also make it harder for the company's competitors to bring new technologies to the energy marketplace that could give consumers new control over costs and sources of power. Critics claimed it would cost consumers "billions of dollars" and compared ComEd to the old telephone monopoly.

“So what we're seeing in electricity is what happened in telecommunications. We ought to open up the market to more competition and not have it be just ComEd,” Learner said.

A company spokesman said ComEd welcomed innovation. He claimed its proposal would cost a small electricity user about $3 a year, conceding some would pay a lot more.