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    How much ComEd wants to raise rates.(News)

    January 30, 2023 - Daily Herald


      Byline: JENNY WHIDDEN jwhidden@dailyherald.com

      ComEd filed for a rate hike from state regulators Tuesday that would increase its delivery rates by a total of $1.5 billion over four years. If approved, the utility says customers can expect to pay about $6.72 more on their monthly electric bills in 2024, with yearly increases that would add a total of $17 to monthly bills by 2027.

      The sole electric provider in Chicago and most of northern Illinois, ComEd serves more than 4 million customers and is the largest electric utility in Illinois. The company is seeking a record-high rate increase of $894 million in 2024, followed by average annual increases of $198 million through 2027.

      ComEd's plan would cost customers an average of about $6.72 more per month in 2024, $5.73 in 2025 and $6.20 in 2026. Then monthly bills would decrease by $1.67 on average in 2027.

      ComEd officials say the revenue will ensure grid performance and reliability in the face of a growing movement to decarbonize and electrify the transportation and building sectors, adding that ensuring the grid is capable of handling changes in climate is also a key priority.

      "I think we've all seen what's happening to energy systems as a result of more frequent, more severe weather. That is going to continue to intensify as we think about the future," said Michelle Blaise, ComEd senior vice president of technical services.

      With the growth of electric vehicles, renewable energy sources and electric home appliances like heat pumps, Blaise said the plan aims to meet the objectives of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act Illinois' ambitious clean energy bill that requires the state's utilities to get 40% of their power from renewable sources by 2030.

      "Customers are installing more and more solar between rooftop solar and community solar. The grid needs to function differently than the way it was designed, meaning we're going to need to make upgrades on the grid to enable the seamless integration of this new type of technology," Blaise said.

      A decision from state regulators is expected in mid-December, following the Illinois Commerce Commission's standard 11-month process.

      Most recently, the commission approved a ComEd rate increase of $199 million in December. The rate hike was the utility's largest since 2014, adding a projected $2.20 to the average residential customer's monthly bills this year.

      Consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board criticized Tuesday's proposal, which would also increase the utility's return on equity from about 8% to 10.5% in 2024.

      "CUB will do a thorough review, but it's immediately clear that the utility giant wants an excessive profit rate for shareholders. That's why we will join with other consumer advocates to fight it," CUB wrote in a statement.

      "Making strategically smart, consumer-friendly grid improvements can help save customers money in the long run, but that shouldn't mean ComEd gets an excessive profit rate."

      The board added that the plan is "terrible news" alongside the recent rate hike requests from Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas.

      * Jenny Whidden is a Report For America corps member covering climate change and the environment for the Daily Herald. To help support her work with a tax-deductible donation, see dailyherald.com/rfa.


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