ON-AIR: Illinois Speaker calls on Governor for special session on energy

By Staff Report

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan recently sent a letter to Governor Rod Blagojevich requesting that the governor call a special session of the Illinois Legislature. The purpose of this session: to discuss an existing bill that would extend energy rate freezes by 3 years. Illinois residents energy rates have been frozen since 1997. Ameren and Com Ed’s low fixed rate energy contracts expire this January, requiring them to buy energy at the higher market price resulting in energy bills to rise. If the energy rate freeze extention goes into effect, Com ed and Ameren would be forced to sell energy at a deficit. Com Ed spokesperson Judy Rader said the extension would have serious consequences.

“Under a rate freeze extension we would have a revenue shortfall of 3 million dollars a day or like I said 1.4 billion dollars a year. We might have to cut the amount of power we buy.”

Ameren Spokesperson Leigh Morris said Ameren would have to lay off 700 jobs and eventually would need help from the state. Morris says Illinois residents have experienced low energy rates and the increase would put them at the national average. Morris argues that if the rate freezes go into effect Ameren could require the state to help pay its bills.

“It would wind up costing us more, than if we just went ahead and allowed these rate increases.”

In the letter, Madigan states his concern that residents will pay an additional 26 to 55 percent more for their electricity by the end of the year. Both Ameren and Com Ed are proposing similar ‘Phase in Programs’ in which residents would have the option to gradually pay more for their energy. Blagojevich says he will call a special session once there are enough votes to pass it.