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A victory in the battle for a better power market in Central, Southern IL

As Illinoisans prepared for New Year’s Eve revelry, federal regulators handed down an order that we hope will help avoid a repeat of the 30 percent power price spike that hit the Central and Southern parts of the state last summer.

On Dec. 31, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered key changes to the rules governing a yearly auction that has a significant impact on power prices. The changes are designed to protect customers from future spikes.

“This is a step in the right direction for consumers who suffered through the jolt of last summer’s price spike,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said in a statement today. “A lot of work needs to be done, but the recent FERC ruling aims for reforms that will better protect consumers from unjust increases in their power bills.”

“It’s great news that FERC has acknowledged downstate electric customers deserve relief from an inflated and absurd pricing process,” added Attorney General Lisa Madigan. “I am pleased with FERC’s decision to fix the auction rules, but FERC still needs to order refunds to consumers for the outrageously high prices.”

Last spring, Illinois’ capacity cost was more than 40 times higher than the other 14 states  participating in the auction, sparking a 30 percent spike in power prices for Central and Southern Illinois residents. In a filing before FERC, CUB supported Attorney General Madigan’s complaint to federal regulators calling for an investigation and market reforms. (So did thousands of CUB Action Network members who sent messages to federal regulators after a summer media campaign by the watchdog group.)

The investigation of possible market manipulation continues and AG Madigan and CUB are hoping consumers will get refunds. But the fact that FERC has ordered a change in the rules is at least promising step forward.