• Utilities
  • Pritzker recruits former utility nemesis for help on state energy bill

    Doug Scott, Illinois Commerce Commission chair under Gov. Pat Quinn, fought some lonely—and losing—battles against ComEd nearly a decade ago. He's in a different position this time.

    Doug Scott

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    Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants Illinois to approve legislation putting the state on the path to 100 percent clean energy in the foreseeable future. But, unlike virtually every other major energy bill the state has enacted in the past two decades, he doesn’t want Commonwealth Edison to write it.

    So he’s calling in reinforcements. The governor’s office has hired Doug Scott, former Illinois Commerce Commission chairman under Gov. Pat Quinn, as a consultant to advise on legislation to advance more clean-energy development in Illinois.

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    As ICC chair, Scott, now vice president for electricity and efficiency at Minneapolis-based consultancy Great Plains Institute, led Quinn’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to kill ComEd’s smart grid bill in 2011, which permits the utility to raise rates via an annual formula that gives regulators little say.

    79彩票注册网址Before that, he was director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He spent many years in Springfield before his administrative roles as a Democratic state representative from Rockford.

    Scott’s hiring gives Pritzker some credibility in his pledge that the comprehensive energy bill he wants the Legislature to take up this spring won’t be a sop to the formerly clout-heavy ComEd and its parent, Chicago-based Exelon. ComEd is under the microscope over its lobbying tactics and allegations of favor-trading and improper hiring in a wide-ranging federal probe of corruption 79彩票注册网址in Springfield and local governments around Illinois.

    "The governor is committed to passing clean energy legislation this spring and has made it clear that he will not sign a bill written by the utility companies,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “With deep experience running the Illinois EPA and regulating public utilities on the ICC, the Pritzker administration is excited to work with Doug Scott and the Great Plains Institute to pass legislation that puts consumers and climate first.”

    79彩票注册网址In an email, Scott said he was excited at the opportunity. “I look forward to using my experience to offer subject matter guidance as the Pritzker administration addresses climate change and embraces a clean energy future,” he said.

    If Scott is able to put his stamp on whatever bill emerges, and it doesn’t emerge as an earnings bonanza for Exelon and ComEd, that will be quite a plot turn. As ICC chair, Scott’s interpretations of the 2011 law were overturned by the General Assembly. House Speaker Michael Madigan—and to a lesser degree, then-Senate President John Cullerton—responded to ComEd complaints that the Scott-led ICC improperly saw the law as giving them more authority than they had to keep rates lower than ComEd wanted. The General Assembly then moved to clear up any confusion and give ComEd what it wanted.

    Madigan is still House speaker, but his power is diminished by the federal investigations probing his close associates. Cullerton retired in January, succeeded as Senate president by Don Harmon, 79彩票注册网址D-Oak Park, who like Pritzker has promised not to pass a utility-written bill.

    Subject-matter hearings on energy issues begin this week in the Senate Public Works & Utilities Committee, chaired by Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park.

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