Does Governor Pat Quinn Have a Plan for SmartGrid in Illinois?

This month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (SB1652), calling it “a bad bill,” that is “a dream come true for Commonwealth Edison, but it’s a nightmare for consumers of Illinois.

The veto nixes ComEd’s plans to develop Smart Grid infrastructure in Illinois.  This is not the first time state government has prevented the utility from rolling out Smart Grid; a 2010 pilot program in the western suburbs was halted by concerns that it unfairly benefited a few customers at the expense of the many.

Will Illinois maintain its status quo with its energy infrastructure?  Not only is the present system suboptimal for energy efficiency, it has a high degree of dissatisfaction among residential and commercial customers.

For the third year in a row, business customers have placed Commonwealth Edison second-to-last in customer satisfaction among its Midwest peers.

According to a J.D. Power and Associates study — based on interviews with representatives of more than 17,000 U.S. businesses that spend between $500 and $50,000 monthly on electricity — ComEd tied for second-to-last place with the state’s other major utility Ameren Illinois. Both received a score of 607 on a 1,000 point scale.

John Hazen, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates, said a chief complaint among ComEd customers is that they aren’t provided accurate information about when power will be restored.

“In the Midwest, you’re going to have power outages,” he said. “But what we see is that if you tell me it will be four hours and you’re accurate with that information, satisfaction is still pretty good. But if you tell me four hours and it ends up being six hours, that’s another story.”

It remains to be seen whether the governor and legislature will work to develop effective policy on modernizing energy infrastructure in Illinois.  State Senator Don Harmon wrote of the need of a new bill this month, stating:

To be effective, any legislation to modernize the electric grid should contain lower profit margins for utility companies, key protections for those who can least afford rate increases, dedicated revenues for storm response measures, environmental safeguards, and clear evidence that ratepayers will realize future savings from smart meters.

Adjunct Professor Carla Jones examines these issues in this semester’s online offering of SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change.  If you are interested in enrolling in one of our courses, find out more by visiting our Sustainability Studies website, calling 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or emailing

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