State watchdog sues ComEd in federal court

By Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 6, 2021

The Citizens Utility Board watchdog group has filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Commonwealth Edison of “unjust enrichment” and betraying its customers by orchestrating a bribery scheme to influence House Speaker Michael Madigan and pass legislation the utility wanted in Springfield.

The 13-page complaint, filed late Tuesday as part of an ongoing proposed class-action suit against ComEd, seeks millions in restitution from the utility giant to be paid directly to customers allegedly harmed by its decade-long scheme.

ComEd admitted to the facts of the bribery scheme in a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in July, agreeing to pay a record $200 million fine and cooperate with the ongoing probe in exchange for bribery charges being dropped after three years.

The deal with the U.S. attorney’s office, however, does not require ComEd to reimburse customers for any additional money received because of the scheme — an omission that the Citizens Utility Board seeks to address through its suit…

“While utility consumers would always have been harmed by unfairly high rates, the harm is particularly acute this year, as hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the suit stated. “Many Illinois residents and businesses have fallen behind on their utility bills. ComEd, meanwhile, continues to reap the benefits of its nearly decadelong scheme — even after admitting what it has done.”…

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