Why aren’t we talking about Chicago’s franchise agreement with ComEd?

Recent reporting has shined a light on three separate federal investigations into the company and its lobbying activities in Illinois.

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A ComEd storefront Sun-Times file photo

With corruption scandals linked to ComEd making front page news, the city is quietly renegotiating the franchise agreement that grants the company a monopoly over the delivery of electricity to our homes and businesses.

ComEd — Chicago’s investor-owned electric utility — and their parent company, Exelon, have been the subject of some excellent investigative reporting.

So, why aren’t we talking about the city’s franchise agreement with the utility?

Recent reporting has shined a light on three separate federal investigations into the company and its lobbying activities in Illinois.

We’ve learned about the millions of dollars ComEd spends on lobbying, Exelon utilities CEO Anne Pramaggiore’s abrupt departure and $7.7 million retirement package and the company’s practice of hiring politically-connected individuals to advance their interests with limited oversight.

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Many Chicagoans may not be aware that ComEd’s franchise agreement, set to expire in December 2020, is up for renewal for the first time in 28 years.

This is the contract that sets the terms of ComEd’s relationship to the city as our sole electricity provider. Chicagoans are impacted every time we pay our electric bill. The fact that negotiations are happening with limited public scrutiny should concern us all.

Some of us are starting to question this arrangement, which generated over $2 billion in revenues for ComEd and over $200 million in profits for Exelon’s shareholders in 2018.

For example, Democratize ComEd — a campaign spearheaded by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America — is calling for Chicago to form a publicly-owned, municipal utility that prioritizes people over profit.

In July, 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata introduced an order calling for a feasibility study to investigate municipalization. Twenty-two alderpersons co-sponsored the order, which has yet to come up for a vote in the Environmental Protection and Energy Committee.

In October, 12th Wrd Ald. George Cardenas stated that Chicago is in fact commissioning such a study. Since then, there has been no public briefing or further update.

The lack of transparency about the study and the franchise agreement negotiations is incredibly disappointing.

The recent news about ComEd has peeled back the curtain on how the utility has used closed door negotiations and cozy relationships with lawmakers to maximize their profit margin.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure the energy infrastructure we rely on operates in our best interests. It’s about time we started asking questions.

Sveta Stoytcheva, Bridgeport

CPD’s morale put to the test

Firing Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, with only weeksto his retirement, raises too many unanswered questions.

One must look at Johnson’s total record of 30 years of service with the Chicago Police Department. He was a very popular officer and the morale of CPD will now be tested.

One incident shouldn’t negate all of Johnson’s years of hard work or tarnish his reputation.

Look at President Donald Trump. He’s lied more than 2,000 times and he’s still president.

Harlean Vision, Skokie

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