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ICC lets ComEd delay roll out of smart meters

A smart meter is digital electric meter thcollects usage informatievery 30 minutes sends thinformatiComEd through wireless connection.  Supplied photo

A smart meter is a digital electric meter that collects usage information every 30 minutes and sends that information to ComEd through a wireless connection. Supplied photo

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Updated: February 4, 2013 1:17AM

CHICAGO — The Illinois Commerce Commission on Wednesday agreed to ComEd’s request for a delay in rolling out so-called “smart” meters to upgrade its electric-transmission system, and will take up the issue in April.

Following an ICC ruling in October that ComEd said failed to allow it to recover costs for 12 items, the utility asked to delay installing additional smart meters until 2015 and some basic infrastructure programs.

The smart meters initially were to be installed this year, but their rollout was delayed until 2013 after the ICC on May 29 refused all of ComEd’s requested upgrade funding request.

About 130,000 smart meters already installed on Chicago’s West Side and western suburbs will continue operating as part of an ongoing pilot program.

In October, the ICC allowed ComEd’s way of figuring its pension assets, but denied both interest rate costs and a rate base calculation that ComEd wanted to recover the costs of the project.

ComEd is challenging the ICC orders at the Illinois Appellate Court, and CEO Anne Pramaggiore said after a Nov. 28 business luncheon speech that ComEd will seek “all paths to resolution,” including a possible return to the Illinois General Assembly, to restore $100 million in yearly revenue the utility says it lacks to build the smart grid because of the ICC’s decisions.

ComEd had proposed a decrease in its electricity rates totaling $40 million to $50 million, but the ICC decided May 29 to cut customers’ rates by four times that, for a total of $168.6 million. New rates resulting from the May 29 ICC decision went into effect on June 1, cutting residential customers’ average monthly bills by $1.66.

In October, the ICC shrank the rate cut 21 percent to $133 million.

Customers may not have much time to appreciate their 57 cents a month reprieve because ComEd is asking for a new rate increase of 97 cents a month on the average customer’s bill starting in early 2013 to cover increasing costs of delivery, taxes, operations and maintenance. The ICC is expected to rule on that request by the end of the year.

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