SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Governor JB Pritzker vetoed House Bill 3445, which is an energy omnibus bill that would make changes to the Adjustable Block Grant program to make it more available to public schools.
Pritzker said Wednesday he is returning the bill because it would “raise costs for ratepayers by giving incumbent utility providers in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region a monopoly over new transmission lines.”
Shawn Schukar, Charmain and President of Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois, said the veto would result in delays in construction and increase costs for downstate energy customers.
“The Illinois labor proposal sent to the Governor by the General Assembly would enable much-needed electric transmission capacity to be quickly and cost-effectively placed into service,” said Schukar. “Unfortunately, today’s veto will result in unnecessary delays in construction that increase costs for downstate energy customers and put the benefits of the clean energy transition at risk. To do it fast and do it right, with accountability for results, these projects should be managed by trusted local energy companies with a proven track record of success, who already competitively bid the projects with local contractors and union workers.”
He followed by saying if competition is eliminated, rates would increase in the MISO region, where there is already over $3.6 billion in planned transmission construction in the Ameren service territory.
If there was no competition, Ameren ratepayers would end up paying for the transmission projects at a higher cost, which Pritzker said would put corporate profits over consumers.
“I cannot support legislation that puts corporate profits over consumers,” Pritzker said in a written statement.
Paul Cicio, Chair of the Electricity Transmission Competition Coalition, agreed that the legislation put customers second.
“By vetoing the ROFR provision, Governor Pritzker has powerfully stood up against utility monopoly interests and shown that he is on the side of consumers and backs lower electricity prices,” said Cicio. “The ROFR was anti-competitive, anti-consumer, inflationary, and Illinois families and businesses would have paid higher electricity prices for decades to come.”
Pritzker recommended that the Illinois House omits Article XXIII, “Transmission and Coorperation Law,” which would give an “incumbent electric transmission owner the right to construct, own, and maintain an electric transmission line that has been approved for construction in a transmission plan and that will connect to facilities that are owned by that incumbent electric transmission owner and are or will be under the functional control of the MISO.”
Pritzker said he will approve the bill once the changes he recommended are made.