Pritzker says he will veto bill that gives Ameren right of first refusal to build transmission lines



(The Center Square) – Legislation giving Ameren Illinois a monopoly on future high-voltage line construction in downstate service areas is apparently doomed.

The General Assembly passed a bill that would give the company the right of first refusal to build transmission lines.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, said his legislation would help keep transmission line projects in house.

“If we don’t have this, [the Midcontinent Independent System Operator] could just go out to the market for open bid and you can get anyone to come in here, could be out-of-state contractors,” Walsh said.

MISO came under fire last year after their North/Central region had a capacity shortage that resulted in higher energy bills, particularly in southern Illinois, and an increased risk of outages.

But state Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said during debate that she is worried what the measure could do to energy bills.

“If you have more competition, generally you keep rates down,” Williams said. “Across the board, whether it’s generation or whatever it might be, it’s common sense that a monopoly is usually bad for consumers.”

Some Republicans in the Illinois House said the bill is another attempt to fix the broken Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked this week if he plans to veto the measure when it arrives on his desk and what happens next.

“Yes I do,” Pritzker said. “It will be, I’m sure, taken up or considered in November so there is a lot of time this summer.”

Ameren has testified in other states considering similar legislation, including Missouri, that the competitive bid process leads to delays and cost overruns.



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