ComEd proposes paying $21 million in bribery refunds | Illinois

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(The Center Square) – Attorneys suing utility Commonwealth Edison in a class-action lawsuit say the utility’s improper gains for nearly ten years of a bribery scheme is more like $12 billion, not the $21 million the utility proposed paying in refunds to customers.

ComEd last week proposed to the Illinois Commerce Commission paying $21.1 million in refunds for customers to address the bribery scandal it admitted to last year, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The utility agreed in a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors it tried to bribe people close to the then-House Speaker Michael Madigan in an influence campaign.

Attorney Stephan Blandin said the utility is trying to say they got rate increases legitimately after admitting to bribery.

“They paid a $200 million fine, by the way, none of which goes back to Commonwealth customers,” Blandin said during a news conference Monday.

Blandin said the $21 million ComEd suggested paying is far from the ill-gotten gains they think the utility gained improperly.

“If you look at Commonwealth Edison’s profits over that time period, it’s close to about $5 billion,” Blandin said. “If you look at how much the ratepayers have subsidized Commonwealth Edison to pay for all these illegal programs that came down, the number is actually closer to about $12 billion.”

As to recent ethics provisions lawmakers passed this summer creating an ethics monitor at the ICC or requiring utilities to have ethics compliance officers, Blandin wasn’t holding out hope.

“Our case in so many ways is a test case as to whether or not the energy industry will be held accountable when it bribes the legislature, do they get away with it or not?” Blandin said. “I have a lot more confidence in our lawsuit and the judiciary than attempting to legislate away corruption.”

Blandin, along with co-counsel Adam Levitt, is suing ComEd in a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 4.3 million ComEd customers with a motion to dismiss pending.

A separate case against ComEd from the Citizens Utility Board was dismissed in federal court. CUB said in a statement it will pursue a challenge in state court.

“Customers have gotten no refund from the company, even though ComEd has pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars in higher formula rates,” the group said in a post on Sunday. “CUB is suing ComEd in state court to win a refund for customers, and we’re also involved in an ICC investigation exploring refunds.”

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Caleb Alexander

Caleb Alexander

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