Controversial Smart Grid Bill Passes in Illinois

In a heated political battle, the Illinois House of Representatives today overturned Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of a bill that allows for the state's utilities to partially pass on investment costs to consumers for "smart" infrastructure via grid modernization and various energy-efficient projects.

Proponents of the bill, including Ameren (NYSE: AEE  ) and Exelon (NYSE: EXC  ) , view the bill as a way to sustainably and competitively allow utilities to invest in the long-term viability of Illinois' electricity infrastructure.

In a statement today, Ameren President and CEO said, "Members of the General Assembly have been steadfast in calling for the development of an energy delivery system that meets today's needs and prepares the state for future economic growth." For Q1 2013, Ameren Illinois pulled in $684 million in sales, 46% of total revenue.

In its latest earnings call, Exelon CEO Christopher Cane said, "Once enacted on, we can start executing our plan of grid modernization included in the installation of the smart meters and improving the reliability of the infrastructure." The utility expects the new ruling to add $25 million of this year's revenue, with an additional $65 million in 2014

Opponents questioned the timing and effectiveness of the new legislation. In a statement released today, Gov. Quinn reflected:

Today's unfortunate vote forces electric utility rate hikes on families and businesses all across Illinois. I am disappointed that the General Assembly did not protect consumers from overreaching by utility monopolies like ComEd and Ameren. This is bad for families, businesses, and our economy.

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