How are you going to spend your $5?
Not everyone reading this is a ComEd customer, but those of us who are should be pretty damn happy to hear that the Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday approved the utility’s proposal to issue refunds due to the company’s “unacceptable conduct” during the corruption investigation that resulted in a $200 million fine paid to the federal government in 2020.
According to the federal government, ComEd bigwigs used jobs and other perks to influence lawmakers to pass 2011 reforms creating a “formula rate” system. Citizens Utilities Board says “has left electric customers vulnerable to hundreds of millions of dollars in rate hikes over the past decade.”
CUB broke the math down as follows: A 3-0 ICC vote ordered ComEd to issue $31,296,338. Once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves, an additional $5,019,312 will be added, plus interest. Customers will receive the refund in the form of an invoice credit, delivered in April, with an average payment of $4.80.
Everyone’s bill varies, but looking at the last 12 months of bills for our suburban home, the reimbursement doesn’t cover a full day. It’s also just over 10% of the cost of a share of ComEd’s parent Exelon, which was trading at $46.30 on Thursday and has bounced between $40 and $50 over the past six months. Chicago-based Exelon ranks 99 on the Fortune 500 with a net worth of over $45 billion. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group said ComEd’s revenue increased by $6 billion due to corruption.
“A refund of $36 million is less than the refund recommended by the CUB, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the City of Chicago,” the Citizens Utility Board said Wednesday. “Furthermore, this case was limited to direct costs and only partially compensates customers for ComEd’s misconduct – people deserve better in the wake of Illinois’ most significant utility scandal.”
CUB directs mild optimism towards the passage last September of the Climate and Employment Equity Act, intended to replace the formula rate approach. But while that legislation called for the investigation that ultimately resulted in reimbursement, defenders had targeted $45 million through a broader investigation that took into account the amount users paid through higher electricity rates made possible. through shady dealings.
I could spend my refund, plus a few pennies, to buy a $5 “The Price Is Right” scratch ticket – new from illinois lottery – in hopes of winning one of four grand prizes of $400,000. The odds of winning a prize through this game are 1 in 4.08, but I like my odds.
Maybe I’ll turn the central air conditioning down a degree for an hour. After all, this refund is little more than a cold comfort.