ROCHELLE – The Illinois Senate Energy and Public Utilites Committee held a subject matter hearing on Thursday, May 2 on ComEd’s ongoing attempt to block the sale of electric transmission lines owned by the Rochelle Municipal Utility.
City leaders pointed to interference by Chicago-based ComEd and asked state senators for support in bringing a resolution to the issue.
This was the second hearing at the state Capitol on this topic. A house committee heard similar testimony from Rochelle in March. The transaction is still tied up in proceedings before the Illinois Commerce Commission.
“The longer this sale is stalled, the more the transmission assets depreciate and thus, the net sale price received by City of Rochelle is reduced by estimated $50,000 per month,” new Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows testified.
“…because the transaction has been delayed, the plan to revitalize our downtown is on hold,” Rochelle Chamber of Commerce President Tricia Herrera explained.
City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh testified that during the months of delay, ComEd has submitted 40 FOIA requests to the city and a subpoena for records.
He also testified that ComEd representatives improperly contacted city officials in person, in a perceived attempt to pressure the city to change the outcome of the RFP process. According to the Fiegenschuh, responding to ComEd’s requests has required more than 50 hours of effort by city staff.
ComEd representatives also testified at the hearing. The ComEd witnesses acknowledged that Rochelle has the right to sell its transmission lines and that the buyer (NEET MA) is qualified to operate them. They also confirmed that their company was a losing bidder in the Rochelle’s RFP process, but expressed no intention to end their opposition.
In 2017, the City of Rochelle conducted an RFP process and completed an agreement to sell electric transmission lines to NextEra Energy Transmission MidAtlantic for approximately $13 million.
An administrative law judge and staff from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) reviewed the buyer’s proposal to operate the transmission lines and recommended that the ICC approve it. ComEd intervened at the ICC to block the sale and reopen the proceeding. The close of the transaction has now been delayed more than six months.
The Illinois Municipal League, the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Rochelle Economic Development corporation support Rochelle’s effort to end ComEd’s interference and respect the city’s municipal rights.
The Rochelle Chamber of Commerce urges residents to visit protectrochelle.com to learn more about the issue and sign a petition in support of Rochelle.