Bill on utilities still a mystery

SPRINGFIELD – A joint House and Senate committee heard six hours of testimony and debate Tuesday on a controversial fast-track bill Illinois Power and Commonwealth Edison are pushing, but almost no one was aware of exactly what the legislation said.

The utilities surprised lawmakers, critics and even their own supporters with a new version of the measure Tuesday morning that was different than the one they released last week.

IP customers could see higher power bills in 2007

SPRINGFIELD – A rate hike Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power are seeking could wind up costing the average residential customer about $65 more a year while allowing the companies to rake in an extra $2 billion over four years, Citizens Utility Board said Monday.

The calculations were based on a 9 percent increase, the maximum if ComEd follows through on its announced plan to seek a "single-digit" increase from the Illinois Commerce Commission before finalizing negotiations to purchase Illinois Power.

Wary ICC hopes to avoid 2nd debacle

SPRINGFIELD – For the second time this year, a corporation with a major Illinois presence is asking the General Assembly to exert its influence on the independent body responsible for utility regulation in the state.

Exelon Corp., the parent company of Commonwealth Edison, recently revealed plans to push a fast-track bill through the General Assembly in the six-day veto session that starts Nov. 4.

Exelon makes promises on jobs

SPRINGFIELD – Exelon Corp. has agreed in writing to preserve certain jobs and pension benefits and improve reliability if its proposed purchase of Illinois Power is approved.

Among the company's promises are: a limit on layoffs of no more than 50 people over five years; maintenance of headquarters in Decatur and satellite centers in Danville and Kewanee; and preservation of benefits for Illinois Power workers and retirees.

State accuses marketing firm of local fraud

SHELBYVILLE – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Universal Adcom, a Texas-based marketing company which allegedly sold advertisements to businesses that were led to believe a portion of the money they spent would be given to local sports teams and civic clubs.

The attorney general's Consumer Fraud Bureau in Springfield has been investigating Universal Adcom since 1996 when the office first started receiving complaints about the company. The office has reviewed a total of 27 complaints. Two complaints were filed by businesses in Vermilion County and one was filed in Champaign County, the attorney general's office said.

Companies will seek rate increase

SPRINGFIELD – The presidents of Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Power on Wednesday confirmed their companies' intent to request early approval from the Illinois Commerce Commission to raise prices after a mandatory rate freeze is lifted in 2007.

They also made public a draft of fast-track legislation they want to push through the General Assembly next month in preparation for a likely merger of the utilities.

Union official questions source of leaflet info

SPRINGFIELD – A union official says he doubts that Illinois Power employees are really behind a leaflet campaign encouraging people to protest the sale of IP to Exelon Corp., the parent company of Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison.

The leaflets accuse the owners of IP and ComEd, which are in exclusive discussions about the sale of IP, with trying to rush a bill through the state Legislature in November to force the Illinois Commerce Commission to set rate increases that would take place in 2007.

Truckers fight state fee increase within budget

SPRINGFIELD – Trucking company owners are hoping to win a reprieve this fall from a new fee on they say is driving them out of state, but the governor's office said it won't budge.

Illinois' new commercial distribution fee is a 36 percent surcharge on top of the annual registration fee for trucks. It was a $92 million piece of the budget package Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly approved last spring.

Firm seeks fast review of IP deal

SPRINGFIELD – Exelon Corp., the Chicago-based company that is negotiating to purchase Illinois Power, hopes to push legislation through the fall veto session next month authorizing a quickened regulatory review of the purchase. The legislation also would set electric rates for the years 2007 through 2010, according to state and city of Urbana officials.

The exact legislation has not yet been made public.

Budget good for driver's facilities

SPRINGFIELD – To the relief of some East Central Illinois communities, Governor Rod Blagojevich and Secretary of State Jesse White have reached a budget compromise that will prevent any closings of driver's license facilities.

White had earlier said he would have to close some sites after Blagojevich used his amendatory veto power to cut the budget for secretary of state.