“Strong ethics and transparency provisions must be the foundation of any clean energy package. All utilities should be held to the highest ethical standards and adhere to best practices in terms of accountability. I’m disappointed that Ameren was unwilling to have this discussion with legislators in a public forum.”
– State Rep. Ann Williams
SPRINGFIELD – At a subject matter hearing regarding utility company accountability and ratepayer refunds this afternoon, members of the Illinois House Energy & Environment Committee questioned representatives from ComEd on their opposition to various ethics measures included within the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). Meanwhile, Ameren refused to appear before the legislative panel and answer questions about ethics and accountability, despite pushing the legislature to continue providing rate hikes to the utility.
“Despite admissions of criminal activity and payment of a record $200 million fine, Illinois consumers haven’t seen a penny in refunds from ComEd as a result of their wrongdoing over the past decade,” said State Representative Ann Williams, chair of the House Energy & Environment committee and Chief House Sponsor of CEJA. “The cost of corruption is very real, and ratepayers deserve to be remunerated for these costs.”
“And while ComEd may grab the headlines, we need to ensure that all utilities employ the highest ethical standards and adhere to best practices in terms of accountability. Clearly, we cannot move forward with a comprehensive clean energy package without a serious conversation about ethics, transparency, and accountability. I’m mystified as to why Ameren declined to participate in today’s discussion, leaving us – and their downstate customers – in the dark as to their position on these critical issues,” added Rep. Williams.
In 2019, the CEO of coal plant owner Vistra Curt Morgan stated that coal was “on its way out.” Vistra has already closed four Illinois plants and announced they will close four others within a decade. In opposing CEJA with misleading attacks, Ameren will leave these communities without property tax replacement revenue and job training funds. That’s on top of Ameren socking Downstate customers with a $64 million rate hike.
Among its numerous critical ethics reforms, CEJA (HB 804) and HB 2619 would:
- Require ComEd shareholders to refund customers for its corruption
- Ban Ameren and ComEd’s unfair formula rate hikes, and replace them with a system that emphasises customer affordability
- Create an independent ethics monitor, hired by the Illinois Commerce Commission, to serve onsite at each utility headquarters to review all lobbying contracts and invoices and file a yearly ethics audit of the company
- Require each utility to hire a Chief Ethics Compliance Officer to assure that the company is following ethics guidelines and cooperating with the independent monitor
- Prohibit a utility like ComEd or Ameren from using customer money to cover legal expenses related to federal investigations, should they arise again
- Require utilities’ charitable contributions come from their profits, rather than adding those contributions to customers’ bills as they do now
“Simply put, CEJA puts consumers before utility profits and recognizes that corruption has a cost we’ve been paying for too long,” said State Representative Theresa Mah, chief sponsor of House Bill 2619 and a CEJA champion. “Over the last decade, we have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in higher rates because big energy companies pushed policy based on bribery and backroom deals. This history of rubber-stamped rate hikes has hurt BIPOC communities, low-income families, and environmental justice communities hardest. Those days are over.”
CEJA would move Illinois to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The bill would create thousands of equitable, clean energy jobs and protect consumers without raising taxes or giving bailouts to utilities or fossil fuel companies that oppose accountability measures. In a recent poll, 82% of Illinois voters surveyed said they support CEJA to aid in COVID recovery. The bill enjoyed strong support among all Illinois regions, political parties, and races, according to the poll.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations. Visit ilcleanjobs.org to learn more.