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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed Senate Bill 9, a piece of legislation that, among other measures, would have quickened the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure and smart meters in the state.

"This bill sends Illinois in the wrong direction," the governor said. "I cannot support legislation that puts the profits of big electric utilities ahead of the families and businesses of Illinois."

Quinn's office contends that S.B.9 would not only increase electricity rates for consumers, but also compromise the state's ability to oversee electric utilities.

"We cannot allow big utilities to force automatic rate hikes on the people of Illinois by going around oversight authorities each and every time they do not get the decision they want," Quinn remarked.

Last year, the Illinois Commerce Commission denied various proposed rate hikes from investor-owned utilities such as ComEd that "weren't needed for the utilities to make promised investments," according to the governor's office. S.B.9 would put "several of those rate hikes into Illinois law."

Reactions from various stakeholders are mixed.

"The veto of Senate Bill 9 [is] disappointing and a missed opportunity to not only create jobs here in Illinois, but to strengthen our electric system and improve service for residents," said Larry Ivory, president of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, in a statement.

"Enactment of Senate Bill 9 would ensure that the benefits of the smart grid program will be felt in Illinois for years to come," he added.

Omar Duque, CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also noted that the veto is a "rejection of badly needed jobs and economic stimulus for Illinois."

"The smart grid program [is] strengthening diverse businesses in our state," he said in a statement. "These economic benefits are essential, but so is the impact the smart grid will have on residents throughout the state. A more efficient electricity delivery system will reduce the frequency and duration of power outages in addition to creating long-term savings for consumers."

Duque and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are pushing for the Illinois General Assembly to override Quinn's veto.

On the other hand, groups such as AARP have come forward to voice approval of the governor's action.

"SB 9 is follow-up to the controversial 2011 legislation (S.B.1652) passed by the Illinois General Assembly writing utility company profits into state law by guaranteeing companies a return on equity of over 10 percent, and nearly automatic annual rate increases," said AARP Illinois State Director Bob Gallo. "We are inviting our members and all Illinois consumers to join us in fighting against these unfair and unwarranted rate hikes."


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