A month after state regulators ordered Commonwealth Edison to pay a $ 38 million refund over the scandal involving former House of Representatives chairman Michael Madigan, the Illinois Attorney General wants consumers to receive a little more.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said on Tuesday that ComEd used “accounting tricks” that cost consumers millions of dollars when the company separately paid a $ 200 million fine related to the federal court case in the scandal, and now the attorney general is demanding larger returns.
Raoul took the position, asking the Illinois Trade Commission to reconsider August’s order, which called on ComEd to pay consumers $ 38 million in reimbursement – an amount that would have meant about $ 5 more for a typical electricity user.
Raoul, working with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Citizens Utility Board’s consumer watchdog group, said ComEd’s accounting tech has already allowed the company to raise an additional $ 7 million from customers and potentially millions more annually.
“ComEd should not be able to profit from its misdemeanors by using accounting tricks to raise more money,” Raoul said in a statement. “ICC should not allow ComEd to pass on the impact of… fines to customers, charging them millions of dollars each year.”
ComEd disagreed with the analysis, citing the way the ICC agreed to return $ 38 million. A ComEd spokesman said the company has fulfilled its commitments.
In July 2020, ComEd admitted it hired Madigan’s buddies for minor jobs, interned a group of college kids from his District 13 empire, and installed a Madigan-recommended person on the board of directors – all in the hope that the chairman of the House it will look advantageous on the company’s legislative agenda.
Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, was charged in March with 22 bribery and racketeering charges and pleaded not guilty.
ComEd struck an adjournment agreement with federal prosecutors and promised to pay a record $ 200 million fine. The company has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation, and if satisfied, prosecutors will drop the bribery charges.
Raoul said that to pay ComEd a $ 200 million fine, the company received a contribution from its parent company, Exelon Corp., causing a capital infusion that gives ComEd steady growth.
Abe Scarr, who heads the Illinois PIRG public interest research group, said the extra money for consumers will not be a huge windfall for individuals, but “the rule is important.”
“ComEd used clever accounting to increase its profits from paying a federal penalty,” said Scarr.
The move also increased ComEd’s overall profit rate, Scarr said.
While similar arguments had been used in previous ICC hearings, regulators rejected them.
Lightfoot said in a statement that the emphasis on re-hearing is “an important step to protect Chicago customers after events that have breached public confidence.”
Paul Elsberg, a leading ComEd spokesman, said Exelon’s contribution to finance ComEd’s fine “was not paid for by customers and had no influence on their rates.”
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