Governor Pat Quinn has put himself between big electric utilities and power consumers, vetoing legislation meant to pave the way for a rate increase by ComEd and Ameren. But it may be just a temporary setback for the utilities.
The legislation would allow ComEd and Ameren to get about $70 million more out of consumers every year.
Quinn says that, along with other rate increases the utilities are seeking, the average consumer would see an increase of $5-$6 a month.
But the concerns go beyond the financial, to the way ComEd and Ameren act toward government. They were denied an increase by the state utility regulator, so they turned to lawmakers.
"That's why this is very disturbing - this trend - of whenever the Illinois Commerce Commission says, 'Stop, you're overreaching.' The utilities do an end-around and try and get the rate increase through the legislature. Not a healthy process at all. This is something we should say no to."
But that seems unlikely. The smart-grid legislation was among the first bills passed by the House and Senate this year.
That leaves plenty of time for lawmakers to override the governor's veto before adjourning for the summer - and the first time around, the legislation had more than enough votes to overrule Quinn.