News Archives: January 2012
BlueStar Energy Holdings, the first company to bill itself as an alternative to Illinois’ utilities ComEd and Ameren for residential electricity, is selling itself to one of the largest utilities in the United States.
The Chicago-based company — which entered the area in 2010 — is being acquired by American Electric Power, the company said Thursday.
Terms were not disclosed.
About 21,000 customers in Ohio, Illinois and other electricity markets that allow competition are served by BlueStar.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel touts ComEd’s $2.6 billion investment in the new smart grid as good for the economy and good for consumers. Consumer watchdog group CUB promises to stay on top of the smart grid to make sure it is smart for ComEd clients. Elizabeth Brackett reports.
Naperville began replacing traditional electric meters with wireless smart meters Wednesday despite pleas from opponents who have filed a federal lawsuit and also are attempting to put a referendum on the March ballot.
Crews installed 275 meters beginning with neighborhoods just north of downtown, according to Nadja Lalvani, the city’s community relations manager.
City officials say the meters will make the electric system more reliable and efficient and reduce costs.
Recently enacted “smart-grid” state legislation should create 2,400 jobs in Chicago in coming years, as work on upgrading the local electric power network begins, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Commonwealth Edison President Anne Pramaggiore said Wednesday.
At a news conference, officials said the cost of the controversial legislation will be worth it, as construction begins and funds flow into related economic development activities.
For instance, ComEd itself will need more workers, so it’s opening up a new training center on the Southwest Side. The facility will be partly designed via a competition among local architecture students, with winners eligible for internships at the firm selected to manage construction.
Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday signed a bill that makes modestly consumer-friendly changes to the “smart grid” law benefiting Commonwealth Edison Co. that he unsuccessfully opposed.
With his signing, ComEd will earn a slightly lower return on equity than it would have otherwise under the new, formulaic rate-setting process that largely will sideline the state’s utility regulators in determining electricity-delivery rates. The bill also tweaks the smart grid law to provide bill-paying assistance to low-income households and seniors.
Lawmakers in October overrode Mr. Quinn’s veto of the underlying bill, which authorizes ComEd to automatically hike electricity rates over the next decade to pay for $2.6 billion in power-grid modernization, including installing so-called “smart meters” in every home and business. Mr. Quinn was supported by consumer and senior-citizen advocates, but the utility industry won the day after contributing more than $1.3 million to state lawmakers’ campaigns in 2010 and 2011.
If it seemed like a lot of people left Commonwealth Edison in 2011 for other electricity suppliers, wait until next year.
In 2011, 20 communities switched electricity suppliers under a law enacted this year and are receiving electricity bills that are upward of 25 percent cheaper than what they paid as ComEd customers.
That’s just the beginning. An additional 108 communities across the state Illinois have informed the Illinois Commerce Commission that they may add referendums to their March ballots that would allow their local governments to negotiate on their behalf with ComEd competitors.