Best Line in a Bill

Exempts the Authority from the jurisdiction of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Speaker Madigan in HB 4091. If the Governor read…well, things.. he might be offended.

Make no mistake about it, this is a giant fuck you to the power companies:

(3) There is a lack of confidence that the electricity needs of residents, commerce, and industry can be supplied in a reliable, efficient, and economical manner in Illinois because ComEd and AmerenIP, AmerenCIPS, and AmerenCILCO have (i) increased their rates unreasonably and unnecessarily; (ii) repeatedly threatened bankruptcy; (iii) failed to maintain their transmission and distribution systems in a manner that ensures reliability; and (iv) in some cases, failed to restore power to customers for more than a week after an outage.

Essentially the bill would set up a public utility company that would compete with the private investor owned corporations–under a deregulated environment, this is a great idea.

Potential problems in the bill include a strong emphasis on Illinois produced coal. I think a couple of changes to the bill could make environmentalists happy by including a provision that the coal projects undertaken will utilize carbon sequestration and use high quality scrubbers. There’s a double benefit here–the utilities claim such technology is too expensive, but a successful project could demonstrate that the technology isn’t nearly as expensive as they claim and encourage it’s adoption more broadly.

There also needs to be greater emphasis on renewable sources–in fact, a requirement for a second project (after the coal project) should be an alternative energy project in northern Illinois.

While I have some minor qualms about the bill, this is a great idea–I hope the Speaker pursues it and that it is more than just cover for the downstate reps.  This is what a Democratic Legislature should be doing.