AARP Eye Center
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 31, 2021
Monika Wnuk, Associate State Director of Communications
312-458-3611 or cell: 312-402-5257
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Illinois Older Adults Petition for Transparent and Affordable Utility Rates
New Data Shows Proposed Bill Would Bring Largest Rate
Hike in Illinois History
As legislators return to Springfield to consider a utility reform bill that could bring the largest rate hike in Illinois history, hundreds of older adults have signed a petition urging elected officials not to forget them when casting a vote.
The concern from older adults across the state comes with good reason: data analyzed independently by AARP Illinois – because a cost analysis was never presented to the public – finds that the bill being debated this week would build up to a $15 monthly increase for Single Family customers and would lead to more than $14 billion in increases to customer bills during the next 10 years.
“Our members are deeply concerned and dismayed about their utility bills, which keep going up without any explanation or consumer input,” said State Director Bob Gallo. “But they are equally frustrated that their elected officials continually act in the best interest of ComEd and other big utilities, which use unfair lobbying practices and not on behalf of the residents.”
Since Aug. 26, more than 500 older adults across Illinois have completed petitions with AARP Illinois, the non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving the lives of those 50+. The petition demands that consumer advocacy groups, like AARP Illinois, be included in negotiations about the omnibus energy bill. On Tuesday, AARP Illinois representatives hand delivered stacks of these signed petitions to legislators at the Capitol.
Research compiled by AARP Illinois found that from the current legislation being considered, the largest single cost driver (larger than the next largest cost by $1.5 billion), is not the increase in renewable energy funding or the equitable and jobs training, but it is the increase to ComEd’s profits. That $4.1 billion increase represents only the increase in money going to Exelon over the next 10 years.
L. Reed, a Lake in the Hills resident and single mother of a 13-year-old son, said she put off seeing a doctor and buying groceries for several weeks to cover a $220 electric bill. Reed had to rely on her church to supply food to her and her son, and the high bill was still not enough to keep her home cool. She had to sit in a chair with ice packs on her to keep from overheating.
“There is no reason, with all the technology we have today, that electricity should be so expensive,” Reed said.
Other older adults who shared their utility struggles with AARP Illinois include: People who have had to stay working long into retirement to keep up with increases. Residents who are on the brink of declaring bankruptcy because they are paying hundreds of dollars a month on utilities.
Currently, Illinois utility customers are millions of dollars behind on their utility bills. Meanwhile, ComEd is projected to make record profits this year, even after it admitted to a 10-year bribery scheme that cost consumers $5 billion dollars.
The rate schemes that only benefit the utility companies, bailouts for nuclear plants, forced electrification, and increased rate caps for ratepayers are just a few reasons that electric bills will steadily increase on the citizens who can least afford it.
AARP Illinois continues to support future legislation to:
- End formula rates and all similar ratemaking schemes, and give the Illinois Commerce Commission back control over the ratemaking process;
- Stop additional nuclear bailouts for Exelon, which would lead to even further unfair electricity rates for you and other unsuspecting consumers;
- Put a stop to so-called “charitable contributions” by big utility companies that are actually giving away consumers’ money to make themselves seem benevolent;
- Enact strict ethics reforms and enhance oversight on utilities to ensure greater transparency and accountability and prevent any further illegal actions employed by utility companies that would lead to more ill-gotten rate increases;
- Oppose legislation that raises rates through questionable new spending.
“All Illinois utility customers – and especially older adults on fixed incomes – deserve energy legislation that finally puts them first,” Gallo said. “We urge legislators in Springfield to vote on behalf of the people who put them in office, who are telling them that the largest utility rate hike in history should not be an option.”