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Opinions of ComEd and Ameren Customers Ages 50+ in Illinois on House Bill 14: An AARP Survey

En español | The Illinois state office of AARP commissioned this survey to explore the views of electric and gas customers ages 50 and older from two companies that are specific to House Bill 14 – Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and Ameren. Concern about and experience with electric and gas rates and support for specific features of the bill are tested in this survey. According to ComEd’s website, the company currently services about 70 percent of the state’s population or 3.8 million customers in Illinois. Ameren currently serves about 2.4 million electric customers and about 900,000 natural gas customers.  If passed, HB 14 could result in less state oversight, fewer consumer protections, and more frequent automatic rate increases for ComEd and Ameren customers and perhaps ultimately for customers of other natural gas companies in the state. There are approximately 3,977,245 persons age 50+ in Illinois and many of them, particularly those with lower incomes, could be affected by this bill if passed.

Key findings include:

  • Just over half (54%) of all customers surveyed would strongly (29%) or somewhat (26%) support legislation requiring ComEd and Ameren to make extra financial investments to infrastructure and electric grid improvements beyond what is required by law.
  • However, most (78%) ComEd and Ameren customers surveyed would strongly (62%) or somewhat (16%) oppose additional annual automatic rate increases to help pay for those infrastructure and electric grid improvements beyond what is already required by law.
  • The majority (72%) of customers surveyed would strongly (54%) or somewhat (18%) oppose allowing other natural gas companies that serve ComEd customers like North Shore, NICOR, or People’s Gas to impose similar additional rate increases for the same extra investments in infrastructure.
  • ComEd and Ameren customers overwhelmingly oppose (strongly oppose: 70%; somewhat oppose: 13%) allowing electric and gas companies to begin automatic rate increases for infrastructure and grid improvements before the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) has completed a full review of their request for those rate increases.
  • Most (62%) customers surveyed say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for state office who commits to preventing electric and natural gas companies from charging unreasonable rates to customers.  However, they are somewhat divided on voting for candidate who would reduce oversight of electric and natural gas companies (more likely to vote for candidate: 33%; less likely to vote for candidate: 36%;  makes no difference: 22%).  

The results of this telephone survey are based on a random sample of 804 Illinois residents age 50+ who indicated they were customers of either ComEd or Ameren and completed surveys between March 21 - April 7, 2011. For more information, please contact Jennifer Sauer at 202-434-6207.

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