ComEd to pay $434 million back to customers

ComEd customers will start seeing monthly checks from the utility company as they are required to pay back $434 million over the next three years.

The payments come from excess deferred income taxes collected by the company as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The plan comes after The Illinois Commerce Commission approved to credit nearly $485 million in tax refunds to the state’s electric customers beginning in 2023.

Abe Scarr of The Illinois Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, explained the payment process to The Center Square.

“The checks will be around $3 a month for the next three years,” Scarr said. “So it’s not incredibly significant, but it will hopefully balance out a little bit of this pending [utility] rate increase.”

The proposed rate hike would raise average bills by $2.20 a month, but ComEd added that offsets and decreases due to a reduction in energy capacity costs would result in lower bills by next year.

Around $65 million will be distributed by the utility in 2023 with between $195 million and $282 million in 2024. The remaining amount will be paid out in 2025, according to ComEd spokesman David O’Dowd reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Scarr mentioned that the original plan was to pay out customers over the next few decades.

“It has always been our money, and they’ve always needed to return it,” Scarr said. “A couple of years ago, they convinced regulators to give them 39 years to repay it, and a law was passed last year that said they have until 2025.”

In 2016, the utility’s parent company, Exelon, secured large subsidies from the General Assembly for two of its nuclear power plants after giving out jobs to then-House Speaker Michael Madigan’s allies.

In 2020, ComEd admitted wrongdoing and paid a $200 million fine.

Scarr worries that this could be a public relations move by Commonwealth Edison.

“I do have some worries that ComEd is using these refunds, which is the customer’s money to begin with, to clean up previous issues,” said Scarr.

Illinois Radio Network