ComEd has announced delays to key elements of its grid modernization program under the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) following the Illinois Commerce Commission decision that granted ComEd recovery of the cost of funding its pension, but denied cost recovery on two other key issues, which ComEd will appeal in court.
“With this ruling, we have no choice but to delay some elements of the grid modernization rollout, at least until we have an outcome in the courts,” says Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO. “The adverse rulings on the interest rate and rate base issues significantly impair ComEd’s ability to finance long-term investment programs.”
Last year, the General Assembly enacted EIMA, directing electric utilities to invest in the state’s electric infrastructure, improve reliability, create jobs, and attract investment to Illinois. The law also granted utilities the right to recover the actual costs of investment. ComEd says that today’s ICC ruling is inconsistent with the legislation on two of three issues considered on rehearing.
After the ICC denied ComEd cost recovery on 13 issues in May, the company sought rehearing on all 13 issues but the ICC agreed to reconsider three, and today reversed its earlier decision on only one. The impact of these issues will be nearly $100 million per year in 2014 and beyond, costs that cannot be recovered and subsequently reinvested into the system, ComEd says.
“Although today’s ruling will allow us to maintain a minimal level of investment of a few core programs, it is insufficient to fully fund our grid modernization efforts,” says Pramaggiore. “While we remain committed to fulfilling the promise of EIMA and intend to meet our obligations under the law, we have to be judicious about making investments if we do not have full cost-recovery, as authorized by the legislation.”
ComEd says it must delay installation of additional smart meters until 2015 as a result of the ruling. This new deployment schedule is reflected in a ComEd filing at the ICC.. In addition, some of the basic infrastructure programs as well as the Chicago training center will either be delayed or phased in more gradually.
ComEd says the result is that more than $2.3 billion in customer savings and creation of 2,000 full-time equivalent jobs will be delayed.