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Quinn Vetoes ComEd Rate Hike Bill, Legislative Battle Looms (VIDEO)

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PAT QUINN
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn explains the laying off of more than 1,900 state employees and closure of seven state institutions on account of the state's budget struggles in a September press conference. | AP

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Monday vetoed legislation that would have allowed for Commonwealth Edison to increase its rates for its customers while the utility implemented smart-grid technology.

"It may be a dream come true for Commonwealth Edison, but it's a nightmare for Illinois consumers," Quinn said of the bill as he explained his veto at the James R. Thompson Center Monday, as the Chicago Tribune reports.

Quinn and other opponents of the legislation -- Senate Bill 1652 -- saw it as a "Trojan horse" intended to boost the utility's profits. ComEd, meanwhile, says the price hike was needed in order to recover the costs of its lofty smart-grid program -- a program they say will save customers money in the long run, in addition to restoring their power more quickly and efficiently in the event of an outage.

"Smart meter system technology can improve service, help customers make more informed decisions about energy use, and contribute to lower energy costs," ComEd president and chief operating officer Anne Pramaggiore said in a statement earlier this summer.

Aware of Quinn's consistent opposition, the utility this month offered concessions to the legislation in an attempt to avoid a gubernatorial veto, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Among the ideas floated by the utility included the creation of a fund to help elderly and low-income consumers pay their electricity bills and a capping of the utility's profits to less than 10 percent over the next three years.

But these concessions were not enough for Quinn or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who stood at Quinn's side Monday. Madigan added that the bill "would allow the utilities to pass go and head straight for our wallets," the Tribune reports.

The state's General Assembly, which approved the legislation in May, can still challenge the governor and attempt to override his veto when they return to Springfield in the fall, the Daily Herald reports.

Gov. Quinn Vetoes ComEd Rate Hike: MyFoxCHICAGO.com

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