By a 5-0 vote, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) issued its final order (Docket No. 15-0287) on December 9 in ComEd’s Formula Rate Update filing for distribution of electricity in 2016 – decreeing a rate decrease of about $66.7 million, compared to 2015.
The 2.58 percent rate reduction will benefit the utility’s 3.8 million customers across the Prairie State, conferring a cut of about $1 on the average monthly residential bill starting January 1. The decrease affects delivery charges — the amount customers pay to have electricity distributed to their homes.
ComEd’s original filing last April – in compliance with the annual rate-setting process established by the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (AKA the Smart Grid Law) enacted by the Illinois General Assembly in October 2011 – reflected a lesser, $55 million rate decrease. The law uses a formula to determine ComEd rates annually for the next several years to pay for about $2.6 billion in system upgrades.
Through October of this year, ComEd claims to have “installed 1.8 million digital smart meters that allow for two-way communication between the utility and customers, providing information that enables customers to better manage energy consumption and costs, and to access new pricing programs that reward shifting energy usage to lower-demand times of day.” The company will complete the installation of 4 million smart meters in 2018.
The ICC ruling includes additional revenue reductions. In submitting their annual rate requests, utilities must provide their previous year’s actual expenses and the current year’s projected capital investments. The ICC then has eight months to fully review and make a determination on the rate change request. The formula ratemaking process requires that any savings be passed on to utility customers in a timely fashion.
“This is a promising development for Illinois seniors and families who are accustomed to hearing bad news about their utility bills,” commented David Kolata, executive director of the Chicago-based Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a group that advocates on behalf of ratepayers. “We hope this decrease is a sign that ComEd has taken a step forward in building a more efficient and reliable power grid that gives consumers the opportunity to save money.
“llinois has a long way to go to build a power grid that maximizes consumer benefits and our message to the state’s biggest electric utility is: Don’t stop now. We are paying for these power grid upgrades, so we deserve the benefits.”