After an investigation sparked by the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has ordered scandal-plagued ComEd to give customers a $38 million refund. But CUB says it’s not enough.
“A ($38 million refund) only partially compensates customers for ComEd’s misconduct — people deserve better in the wake of Illinois’ most significant utility scandal ever,” CUB said in a statement. (Note: CUB’s statement refers to it as a $36 million refund, but adding interest it totals about $38 million, ComEd says.)
The refund amounts to a one-time average credit of about $4.80 on April bills. CUB, the City of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office argued for a refund that was closer to $50 million. The watchdog said it would file a petition for rehearing asking state regulators to consider the higher amount.
In July 2020, ComEd was fined $200 million by federal authorities, after admitting to a bribery scheme to pass legislation in 2011 that implemented a “formula rate” system. That rate-setting system left electric customers vulnerable to hundreds of millions of dollars in rate hikes over the last decade. In October of that year, CUB joined a federal class action lawsuit, alleging ComEd enriched itself “at the expense of Illinois utility customers”–and it joined a similar lawsuit in state court.
CEJA called for an ICC investigation into a refund, but the scope was limited to the direct costs customers incurred in connection with the bribery scheme. That’s why CUB also fought ComEd in the state and federal class actions, which could secure much larger refunds connected to damages for customers who had to pay years of rate hikes. Unfortunately, both of those cases were dismissed by judges, and at press time CUB was waiting for the results of appeals of those decisions.
Some good news: CEJA has replaced the unfair formula rate-setting system with a more transparent system that gives the ICC more authority. The groundbreaking energy law also has secured about $1 billion in bill credits to help soften the blow of high energy prices for ComEd customers, as well as tax-related refunds that total about $480 million over the next three years for electric customers.
“CUB continues to work on behalf of consumers for full restitution for the ComEd scandal, as well as the most pro-consumer implementation of the Climate & Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) to protect customers from unjustified rate increases,” the watchdog group said.