Illinois Lieutenant Governor calls for continued electric rate freeze

Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn
Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn
Illinois Lieutenant Governor calls for continued electric rate freeze
By: Carly O'Keefe
MARION, Il. - Ameren CIPS wants to raise rates by about 40% in Illinois. It's news that does not sit well with Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.
He has already asked Ameren customers to send tea bags along with their electric bills - harkening back to the Boston Tea Party and the American tradition of refusing to pay extra fees or taxes for goods or services.
Now Quinn's asking for the current rate freeze to be extended. The democrat lieutenant governor says another three year rate freeze will keep Ameren from shocking its Illinois customers.
On the front lawn of Ameren's Marion, Illinois office, Quinn called on lawmakers and the public to refuse the proposed rate increase scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2007. "The bottom line is that the people of Illinois can't afford and 40 percent rate increase on their electricity. We need jobs in this state, and this is a job killer to raise the electric rates on families, small businesses, farmers and everybody else," Quinn said.
Ameren plans to phase in the increase over a period of several years. The company's web site says it needs the rate increase to "continue to provide reliable electric utility service" to its Illinois customers.
Quinn disagrees. He says the company has done well enough with frozen rates. "Ameren last year made record profits, and it isn't right to have obscene profits if it's going to hurt the people who live from pay check to pay check, or pension check to pension check."
Now the lieutenant governor is traveling the state, drumming up bipartisan support for a bill that would extend the rate freeze another three years.
"Residential electric customers have no choice when it comes to where they're going to buy their power. Until they have a choice, until they have competition, we need to do everything we can to freeze the rates, keep the rates under control, and make sure the senior citizens, my grandma, your grandma, small businesses can continue to afford to pay their electric bill," said Marion Democrat Representative John Bradley.