ComEd plans to issue a ‘voluntary’ $38 million rebate to customers following a bribery scheme that has resulted in numerous high-profile indictments, including that of former House Speaker Mike Madigan .
But the credit that customers will see on their invoices may not be very high.
According to an announcement Wednesday, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved a plan for ComEd to provide a $31 million rebate directly to consumers to help pay for costs associated with the high-profile bribery scheme, while another $7 million rebate will be given to consumers through a “federal regulatory process.”
ComEd also had to pay a $200 million fine to the government under a deferred prosecution agreement in connection with the scheme.
“Today’s approval of ComEd’s $38 million voluntary client refund resolves any questions about whether client funds were used in connection with the unacceptable conduct detailed in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) of July 2020,” the utility company said in a statement.
“The quality and value of ComEd’s service to our customers is arguably the best in the country, but we recognize that delivering excellent performance and value for money alone is not enough, and we are also committed to earn and maintain the trust of our customers,” the statement continued.
While it’s unclear when the rebates will be issued, likely as a credit on customers’ bills, the rebate amount would average around $5 per customer.
The Illinois PIRG Education Fund, which identifies itself as a “nonpartisan and independent group” that fights for consumer rights, blasted the refund in a statement.
“While $38 million is a welcome relief for ComEd’s customers, it’s a small sum compared to the more than $6 billion in additional revenue ComEd has earned since ending its bribery scheme,” said group manager Abe Scarr said in a statement. “Not only have policymakers failed to hold ComEd accountable, they have rewarded ComEd with a new rate structure maintaining key ‘formula rate’ profit guarantee policies that could be even more profitable for the utility. “
Earlier this year, ComEd proposed a rate hike of nearly $200 million starting in 2023. The result of that hike would cost residential customers an average of about $2.20 per month, according to the company.
Investigators have been investigating the alleged corruption scheme for at least eight years. Madigan was one of several high-profile people charged in connection with the case, with the former speaker facing racketeering, bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion charges.
The investigation began in earnest in 2014, with prosecutors targeting 25e Ald district. Dany Solis. Finally, Madigan and 14e Ald district. Ed Burke has also been charged in connection with the case.
In its 2020 settlement with the Department of Justice, ComEd admitted that it arranged jobs, subcontracts and monetary payments for various associates of a “high-level elected official for the State of Illinois “.
Under the settlement, the U.S. attorney’s office deferred prosecution for three years and said it would seek to have the charges dismissed if the company met certain conditions.
The utility was also required to improve compliance programs and provide annual reports regarding corrective actions and the implementation of new measures.