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ComEd rate-hike issue delayed; customers keep switching

Updated: September 20, 2012 11:12AM

The Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday delayed until Oct. 3 reconsidering a Commonwealth Edison rate-hike request centered on how ComEd accounts for its pension assets.

The ICC previously approved a rate that ComEd claimed was inadequate, ruling that ComEd can’t earn a rate of return on a pension asset that isn’t fully funded.

The commission took up other issues at its meeting Wednesday in Springfield, and didn’t give a reason for the delay.

ComEd had proposed a decrease in its electricity rates totaling $30 million, but because of the pension issue, the ICC decided May 29 to cut customers’ rates by four times that for a total of $168.6 million.

The ICC ruling, if upheld, would give ComEd customers a $1.70-a-month decrease in their bills on average through the end of the year.

The conflict prolongs a campaign ComEd waged last year for its $2.6 billion plan to upgrade its electric grid over 10 years. Its plan calls for upgrading substations to allow faster responses to power outages, installing digital “smart” meters to let people save money by changing when and how they use electricity and hiring more women- and minority-owned companies to help with the work.

Meanwhile, more ComEd customers are switching their electricity company.

At the end of August, 21 percent of ComEd’s residential customers, or 712,634, chose an electricity supplier other than ComEd, according to the latest report from the ICC.

That was a 35 percent increase from July’s 527,116, according to the report.

In ComEd’s service territory, 30 suppliers offer residential electricity service on terms they tout as cheaper and that provide greater choices of power generated by so-called “green” energy such as solar and wind power.

The competitive suppliers’ offers can be compared to ComEd’s prices at the “Price to Compare” section of

ComEd has maintained that it doesn’t compete with the 30 companies and advocates customers choosing their own electricity supplier.

ComEd doesn’t make a profit selling residential electricity. It passes along the cost it pays for power, but bills for delivering electricity to people’s homes. Thanks to a 2007 law passed by the Illinois General Assembly, alternative suppliers are able to piggyback onto ComEd bills instead of having to send out separate bills.

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