Attorney general: ComEd wrongly asked customers to pay for employee bonuses
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has accused Commonwealth Edison of asking its customers to foot the bill for $87.9 million in employee bonuses—a practice she said is illegal.
ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corp., has roughly 6,000 employees.
Madigan’s office said Tuesday it uncovered the bonuses, tied to Exelon stock, in ComEd’s rate hike request before the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The bonuses are included in the company’s request with regulators to recover $275 million in costs incurred over the last year to deliver electricity to Illinois homes and businesses.
In her filing late Tuesday with the ICC, Madigan said state law does not permit ComEd to include “incentive compensation expense that is based on net income or an affiliate's earnings per share” to be included in electricity rates.
Overall, Madigan’s office argues that ComEd’s claimed expenses should be cut by about 40 percent. Her office declined to elaborate beyond its Tuesday filing.
A ComEd spokesman Tuesday evening said he could not make an executive available for comment, saying that the company was busy dealing with outages from Monday’s storm.
ComEd’s rate increase request, if approved by the ICC, would go into effect in January 2015 and add $3 to the average monthly electricity bill. ComEd’s 2014 rate hike added about $5.50 per month to the average bill. The latest request, filed in April, is the utility's fourth under a formula-based rate-making process established by a law passed in 2011 to modernize the electrical grid. The idea is to add digital technology that can automatically repair equipment during outages, eliminate meter readers and reduce electricity theft.
ComEd has also promised that consumers will have greater control over their energy usage -- and therefore their bills -- with smart meters that are being installed on the system. Critics say it's doubtful most consumers will take advantage of the technology, which gives consumers real-time digital access to their electricity usage.
The company is attempting to finish smart meter installations by 2018.