Each year CUB works on a broad range of issues related to our core mission of saving consumers money on their utility bills. CUB’s priorities for the 2023 Illinois General Assembly session include the following:
HB 2541- Representative Theresa Mah:
This bill would cap the profit rate of electric, gas and water utilities at 8% and equity ratio at 50%, unless the utility can prove to the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) that doing so would harm consumers by increasing utility borrowing costs. The ROE and equity ratio increases ComEd is seeking for 2024 alone would inflate rates by $221 million. Increasing the profit margin for the utility does nothing to improve service for customers. Currently, in Nicor’s $320.9 million rate case the company is seeking a profit rate of 10.35% and a capital structure with 54.52% common equity.
HB 2721- Representative Dagmara Avelar:
This proposed legislation would remove a surcharge from water utility bills that supercharges utility spending and thus increases the pace of consumer rate increases. Roughly 15% of Illinois American Water’s requested $100 million rate hike filed last year included fees flowing through the surcharge that were then placed into base rates.
HB 3689- Representative Michelle Mussman:
Consumer’s Choice Plans are low-cost local calling plans that AT&T successfully removed from the Illinois Telecommunications Act in 2017. The phone company built the landline network under rate-of-return regulation, meaning consumers have paid for the network many times over. This bill would bring the Consumer’s Choice Plans back into law and ensure AT&T offers them. The bill would also make it easier to help the less fortunate connect to broadband by placing a “check box” on bills through which people could donate to an assistance program for internet customers in need.
SB 1477- Senator Ann Gillespie:
Currently, customers pay 100% of acquisition and closing costs when a private utility buys a water or sewer system. The prices paid for systems are inflated due to the “Fair Market Value” appraisal process in state law. The systems are often fully depreciated and then replaced by the private utility. The inflated purchase price paid by utilities are making bills unaffordable for consumers, as demonstrated by Illinois American Water’s $100 million rate case filed last year. This bill would make it so that shareholders pay for 80% of the purchase price, instead of the 0% they currently pay. The current water and sewer privatization model is untenable for consumers.
SB 1538- Senator Cristina Castro:
This proposed legislation would sunset the Qualified Infrastructure Plant (QIP) surcharge on gas bills that has supercharged utility spending and rate increases. Of the $160 million gas rate-hike Ameren filed last month, $53.4 million has flowed through the QIP surcharge and now will be put into base rates. Peoples Gas is currently requesting an increase of $402 million, of which $212.1 million is transferring from the surcharge to base rates.