New Freeze Would Pull Rug Out Under ComEd

Published October 9, 2006

Illinois’ business climate and all that implies for job growth, tax revenues and Illinois’ future rests on a single concept: consistency. Businessmen and -women typically begin a discussion of the state’s business climate with complaints about taxes, and then they switch to policy issues such as workers compensation and the moral depravity of political leaders, and conclude with something about winter weather.

Those aren’t the real issues, though. Accountants, lawyers, financial advisers and money managers for business and labor alike profitably have worked over, under, around and through those obstacles for decades.

What they can’t deal with is inconsistency, and that’s just what Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago), Gov. Blagojevich and Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka are cooking up with their calls for a special session of the General Assembly to continue a freeze on electricity rates.

Illinois’ electricity market for the last 10 years has been based on a complex infrastructure of laws and regulations negotiated and agreed to by all players, from the General Assembly and the Illinois Commerce Commission to the Citizens Utility Board and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and dozens of other special interest groups in between. Tampering with that infrastructure now threatens the reliability of Illinois’ electricity supply, the stability of every business enterprise in the state, and — make no mistake about it — the financial survival of the state’s biggest utility, Commonwealth Edison.