Legislators file resolution asking for investigation of federal rate decisions
SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and State Rep. Adam Brown (R-Champaign) are today releasing damning information in the fight to stop Ameren from building proposed transmission lines across east central Illinois and are calling for an investigation of the Federal Agency in charge of regulating public utilities.
“The independent, bipartisan Legislative Research Unit has now confirmed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has guaranteed a 12.38 percent rate of return on equity (ROE) to Ameren. As a result of FERC’s outrageous guaranteed ROE for companies like Ameren, this is but one of many lines proposed to come through our area – all driven by guaranteed profits for the power companies paid by ratepayers. The private sector doesn’t get a sweetheart deal like this, why should Ameren or any of the other companies proposing these lines,” Rose questioned while releasing the substantiating documents proving the 12.38 percent rate of return.
“It’s high time that we put the interests of taxpaying residents and landowners first, rather than that of a guaranteed corporate ROE,” Brown added.
Rose and Brown are filing resolutions calling on the Illinois Congressional delegation to investigate FERC’s guaranteed profits for the power companies. Rose and Brown note that the current Illinois Rivers project proposed by Ameren is just the first-of-several new high-voltage transmission lines that could traverse the region.
“There is precedence for asking our Congressional delegation to get involved because now-Senator (former Rep.) Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) got involved in the same matter because he questioned FERC’s guaranteed rate of return on a route in his area,” Rose said. “I am concerned that even if we stop Ameren, given FERC’s guaranteed profits for power companies, then some other group will come along in the future years proposing another absurd, unneeded transmission project.”
“Residents and the Illinois Commerce Commission staff, itself, have asked that the installation of transmission lines cease through the heart of Illinois. Let’s listen to the constituents, the taxpayers, and the landholders that have worked so diligently to protect their piece of ground,” Brown said.
Senator Rose and Rep. Brown are also concerned by an Illinois Commerce Commission staff briefing filed in the Ameren case on June 10, noting that the project’s Mt. Zion to Kansas segment should be denied because the proposed sub-station’s exact location, outside of Mt. Zion could not be determined.
The ICC staff wrote in their brief, “[s]ince determining a Mt. Zion – Kansas routing depends upon the location of the Mt. Zion Substation, Staff recommends that the Mt. Zion – Kansas segment be excluded from any certificate that the Commission grants in this proceeding.” Reply Brief of the Staff of the Illinois Commerce Commission June 10, 2013 (p. 14).
Yet inexplicably, just over three weeks later an administrative law judge with the ICC overruled the staff’s clear recommendation of denial of the local route. That judge’s ruling flew squarely against the staff analysis and professional engineering plans that were prepared by the non-partisan ICC front-line staff.
“It is flat out wrong to support a project that the ICC’s own unbiased staff concludes should be denied. Given FERC’s outrageous 12.38% guaranteed ROE for Ameren, there is no incentive whatsoever to build small or efficient transmission – and that assumes that all of this is needed in the first place – which I don’t,” Rose concluded.