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Pending Bill Would Mean Rising Electric Rates

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(Credit: AP)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – Your electric bill could go up if the Illinois State Senate and Gov. Pat Quinn go along with a bill passed by the state House.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports, opponents call the bill a gift to the state’s utilities.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The bill would allow the state’s two main electric companies – ComEd and Ameren – to charge more to pay for a modernization of their power grids.

The state House sponsor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (D-Orland Park), says the move will create jobs and make the state more competitive, and provide incentives for consumers to become more energy-efficient.

“I think as people get to examine more, they’ll realize this will be a good thing for the state,” McCarthy said.

But opponents, including many consumer groups, say the legislation is a windfall for the electric companies. It would virtually guarantee yearly rate increases.

The House approved the bill Monday by a vote of 67-47. But even if the state Senate now approves the bill, Gov. Pat Quinn could still veto it.

Quinn and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have argued along with consumer groups that the legislation amounted to a “blank check” for the powerful utility company.

The utility needed 71 votes in the House to reach the threshold necessary to override a veto by the governor. Even though the bill passed the House handily, the failure to get that many votes strengthens Quinn’s hand in brokering his own deal with ComEd.

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