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Crain’s Chicago Business: City of Chicago, Illinois AG call for far higher ComEd bribery rebate

The Illinois attorney general’s office and the city of Chicago yesterday urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to more than double the refund Commonwealth Edison should make to ratepayers over its admitted bribery scheme.

In testimony filed with the ICC, the state’s chief consumer advocate, the city and the Citizens Utility Board called for a refund exceeding $49 million. ComEd in December offered to pay $21 million.

The action over how much the Chicago utility should reimburse customers for nearly a decade of rank influence-peddling in Springfield aimed at enacting lucrative state laws at the expense of ratepayers is focused on the ICC. That’s because federal and state judges have dismissed class-action lawsuits trying to achieve the same thing. Those rulings have been appealed to higher federal and state courts…

…In their testimony, the city, AG and CUB said that ComEd failed to include amounts it paid some workers with ties to former House Speaker Michael Madigan. Madigan’s favor was what ComEd admitted in federal court that it was seeking through lobbying contracts and subcontracts that funneled cash to his associates and political allies.

They also asserted that, while ComEd claimed that none of the $200 million fine it paid in connection with its admissions was charged to ratepayers, customers were paying more anyway as a result of how ComEd financed the penalty.

ComEd parent Exelon provided equity to its subsidiary to pay the $200 million. Because utility rates are set based on equity returns, the higher equity at ComEd due to Exelon’s infusion meant that its delivery rates were higher than they would have been otherwise.

(Read the full Crain’s Chicago Business story here.)