Illinois electric companies are upset with Governor Quinn's veto


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

MARION, Ill. - Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a bill that would have allowed Illinois electric companies to do some major upgrades to their systems.

The electric company employees say this veto is going to keep the state of Illinois' electrical system out of the 21st Century.

The bill states that Illinois' electric companies could enact a $70 million rate hike and the governor vetoed it saying: "I cannot support legislation that puts the profits of big electric utilities ahead of the families and businesses of Illinois. A strong economy that creates jobs requires stable energy costs, but this bill sends Illinois in the wrong direction. We cannot allow big utilities to force automatic rate hikes on the people of Illinois by going around oversight authorities each and every time they do not get the decision they want."

In 2011, the Electronic Modernization Infrastructure Bill was passed and it allowed for some updates to the current system.

That was great news for the electricity companies and for the citizens of Illinois, but Sunday's veto is stopping the 2011 bill in its tracks.

Communication Executive at Ameren Illinois, Marcelyn Love, is for the bill, but she says the veto was not unexpected.

"The governor has always been a proponent of consumers," said Love.

Governor Quinn did not want to see rates skyrocket for Illinois customers, but Love says it will not happen.

She says, in the last three filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission, their rates have actually gone down."

Despite Quinn's opposition, Love says the bill has gained popularity.

"It has broad support from business, labor, and from the legislature," said Love.

Love, along with supporting members of those communities, will rally to reverse the veto, because Love says Illinois' electrical system needs those upgrades.

The electrical grids used in Illinois are more than a hundred years old and Ameren employees told Local 6 that if this veto is not overturned, those antiquated grids may stay that way.

The plan is one day to get new, "smart" equipment, like a grid system that allows for two-way communication between customers and the electric companies.

"Not only allow the customers to be able to see what's going on, but allow us to be able to detect outages more quickly and also work to be able to get them resolved more quickly," said Love.

But Love says the new technology is not the only thing at stake.

"There are up to 450 jobs here at stake with this bill," said Love.

Love says she will continue speaking out against Governor Quinn's decision until the veto is overturned.

Ameren Illinois wanted to stress, that while the vetoed bill will halt major upgrades, repairs to broken and dangerous equipment will still be made in the meantime.