Previously, an ICC administrative law judge urged regulators to order the utility to start the project next year. But commissioners decided to forego what could have been a difficult fight with ComEd and allow the utility to delay its smart meter deployment scheduled to start this year.
ComEd has argued that previous ICC rate rulings are leaving it without the money to completely implement its $2.6 billion grid modernization program, the result of the smart grid law, which also permits ComEd and Ameren Illinois to raise rates annually via a formula over the next decade in return for the wide ranging infrastructure update.
Commission Chairman Doug Scott believes ComE is overstating the financial hardship caused by the ICC’s previous rate rulings. “The narratives surrounding this case have been very disappointing to me. All of us want smart grid to happen.”
David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, told the Chicago Sun-Times, the ICC’s decision was a sensible response by giving the utility another opportunity to justify the delay. “ComEd is going to have to come back. The ball’s back in ComEd’s court to prove in April they can’t go forward. We think it’s important smart grid moves forward in 2013. Today’s decision is consistent with that occurring.”
ComEd has considered lobbying the General Assembly to reverse the ICC’s rate decision and it has challenged the ICC’s rate interpretations in state court.