ComEd bills likely to rise about $3.15 per month

May 25, 2011 4:52:14 AM PDT
ComEd customers are bracing for higher bills after Illinois regulators granted the electricity provider a rate increase totaling more than $150 million Tuesday.

While the exact numbers are still being calculated, ComEd customers can expect their bills to go up an estimated $3.15 a month. ComEd says this is much less than the company originally requested, but any increase is too much for many consumers.

The lights or the TV rarely come on in Carl Norington's West Side apartment. The 62-year-old says he can't afford it. Norington works full-time as a janitor. He pays his ComEd bill as soon as he can, but sometimes it is past due.

"I don't get paid but biweekly and when I do get paid, I pay the bill, but if I am a day or two days late, they kick me off the payment plan," Norington said.

To be reinstated on ComEd's payment plan, Norington had to pay $216. Otherwise his electricity would have been cut off. For Norington, a rate increase is the last thing he needs. He and several others took their fight against a ComEd rate increase to the Illinois Commerce Commission Tuesday.

"Each month after paying for utilities . . . for thousands of us there is nothing left of the money were earned," Ada Steenken said.

Despite the opposition, the ICC granted the electric company an increase. However, it was less than half of what ComEd originally asked for.

"We understand that it is difficult situations out there for all of us," said Erin O'Connell-Diaz, Illinois Commerce Commissioner.

ComEd says since it's last rate increase 3 years ago, the electric company has invested substantially to enhance its system. According to a written statement, ComEd filed for a rate increase to" recover the costs of making these investments and to continue maintaining a reliable electric delivery system."

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) argues ComEd makes enough money to decrease rates. The latest rate hike is expected to cost consumers an extra $37.80 a year.

"ComEd's parent company Echelon made $2.7 billion last year. There's something wrong with this picture," Jim Chilsen, CUB, said.

"We're having problems paying our bill as it is. It's just too much," Norington said.

The Citizens Utility Board plans to appeal the hike. The attorney general's office said they have uncovered evidence that ComEd owes consumers $40 million. ComEd is pushing for future rate hikes to modernize an electric grid. They say waiting will cost consumers more in the long run.

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