Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is taking formal action to see that Ameren pays excess taxes due to customers sooner.
The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TJCA), which went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, reduced the federal corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. As a result of the lower federal tax rates, Ameren and ComEd now have millions of dollars in excess tax owed to their utility customers.
Raoul filed two requests Friday with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to re-hear and reconsider its decisions in the Ameren Illinois and ComEd formula rate cases that are allowing the companies to hold onto a combined $543 million in excess tax money for a period of 35 years or more, with Ameren Illinois holding onto $158 million in excess tax collected from consumers in central Illinois and the metro east area.
Jim Chilsen, spokesperson for the Citizen Utility Board, says that under the current plan, some consumers will never see the a full refund.
“We agree with the Attorney General’s Office, it’s only right that ComEd and Ameren consumers should get their money back over a more reasonable time period. I mean, making Ameren customers wait decade to get their money means that a significant number of those customers won’t be able to enjoy their full refund. That’s not right and it’s not fair.
Or rough estimate is that many customers should be getting dollars off their bills, but now they will only be getting pennies each month, and we just think it’s only right that Ameren customers should get a full refund in a more reasonable time period.”
In December 2019, the Attorney General’s office asked the ICC to lower the refund periods to a five-year period for Ameren and ComEd to return rate payer money to consumers. The ICC rejected the Attorney General’s recommendation to shorten the refund period which it ruled will be paid back to customers via a reduction in their utility bills over the course of 35 years for Ameren and 38 years for ComEd.
Chilsen says that the ICC only needs to look at neighboring states to see their ruling is unfair to Illinois utility customers.
“We disagree with the utilities position on this. We think the fairest stance is to give that money back in a more reasonable time period and that would be a roughly five year payback period. We think that is much more reasonable for the consumer. It is Ameren customer’s money and they should be able to get that money back in a more reasonable time period.
Other states have done it more fairly, for example, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Missouri used five to ten year payback periods, and we think that is much more fair.
According to Chilsen, the ICC is required to rule on the petition for rehearing with 20 days of their filing. He said that they are hoping that the ICC will change their position on the matter, but it remains to be seen.
According to Attorney General Raoul’s office, his proposal would reduce rates for Ameren customers by $20 million and $62 million for ComEd customers.