Illinois Commerce Commission in PUF

ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan: 

Utilities are "affected with the public interest" but they are also businesses - which is occasionally lost sight of by some interveners. They provide a critical service. It's important that they're healthy and invest in their infrastructure. It's also important that they meet their obligations in terms of service quality and reliability, resiliency, and obviously be sensitive to the impact on rates. The commission's role is to balance those interests. 

ICC Commissioner Sherina Maye Edwards: 

I have a motto, and it's "dance like no one is watching." We should all execute to the fullest when no one is watching, as opposed to when we have a full audience. That's the most important part, and I think that's what happened to me. 

I was apparently doing something that caught someone's eye. Unbeknownst to me that person then went to Governor Quinn and said, "I have this person and she'd be great for the ICC." They reached out to me. I was not seeking this. But then I spoke to a few mentors, and they said, "You cannot pass this opportunity up," so here I am. 

ICC Commissioner John Rosales: 

Reuters Events – Energy Transition North America 2022 – #ETNA2022 – Register Now – Houston, Texas; November 9–10

I've never received feedback yet saying, "Ever since you guys did that, it's making it really hard for us as a business." I've never seen that type of feedback. The governor has been very clear on investing in business. We try to do that in every way we can, while balancing the interests of consumers. 

In terms of regulation, we understand that everything we do has a reaction from the industry. We make sure that whatever we do, we do it in a way that it's going to be best for all, and not to be burdensome on the business community and on utilities.

ICC Acting Commissioner Sadzi Oliva: 

I have a frenzied commute to work, and that's where I start reviewing and responding to emails, reviewing the dockets that I need to get ready for. Once I get to the Commission, I spend my day preparing for the upcoming public meetings, reviewing legislation or rulemaking, and meeting with stakeholders. 

As the newest commissioner, and I'm still an acting commissioner, I'm learning about issues like rate setting, grid modernization, water company challenges, cybersecurity threats, and discussing relevant policy issues with staff. 

Overall, my goal for anything I do is determining if there is a way to make things better. How can we make things better for the citizens of Illinois, and how can we make this agency run more efficiently? 

ICC Executive Director Cholly Smith: 

Before I came to the Commission, I worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. My job there was working against regulation. I now find it ironic that I came here to be a regulator. When I was at the U.S. Chamber, one of the people I talked to about this job, when I was offered it, was the Illinois Chamber president at the time. 

He told me, "Your goal should be to put the 'Commerce' back in the Commerce Commission." In Illinois, we have a very different role in state government. Our autonomy makes bringing everyone together that much more important. 

And because energy is one of the good things we have going on in the state, how do we build upon that? How do we make the Commerce Commission focus on economic development while balancing the interest of ratepayers? 

 

Reuters Events – Energy Transition North America 2022 – #ETNA2022 – Register Now – Houston, Texas; November 9–10

The full article is available here.

The magazine for commentary, opinion and debate on utility regulation and policy since 1928, Public Utilities Fortnightly. "In PUF, Impact the Debate."

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly

E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com