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Illinois’ clean energy future depends on ComEd bill

To suggest that utilities are holding up legislation promoting clean energy solutions in Springfield is just plain wrong

Wind turnbines in action. | AP Photo/Nati Harnik

We agree with the Chicago Sun-Times that climate change is a significant threat to our environment and our region, and it requires urgent action by lawmakers (EDITORIAL: What will it take for government to put the environment first?)

But to suggest that utilities are holding up legislation promoting clean energy solutions in Springfield is just plain wrong.

Contrary to the editorial’s claim that our formula rate legislation is “circumventing the traditional process,” it’s because of the formula rate process, which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2011, that ComEd has been able to update and improve the grid.

Because of those investments, today Illinois is benefiting from a 60% improvement in reliability, billions of dollars in customer savings and the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs — all while monthly bills remained stable.

The formula rate maintains the same rigorous standards for approvals as the old rate-setting model.

In contrast to the previous approach, the formula rate is a much more transparent process that requires annual reviews from the Illinois Commerce Commission, while ensuring we meet a variety of stringent performance-based metrics or face financial penalties.

We worked closely with many of the proponents of the clean energy bills on previous public policy, like the Future Energy Jobs Act and have been actively meeting with them on their current green energy proposals, and the notion that we wouldn’t be “inclined to negotiate with them if our bill passes” is simply not true. We support clean energy and are uniquely positioned to play a role in its future.

There is still much work to be done on larger, comprehensive clean energy bills and we will continue to meet with all stakeholders to ensure that resulting policies will benefit our customers and the state.

However, it would be a setback for Illinois to delay progress of grid improvements the General Assembly set in motion nearly a decade ago, while those larger bills are reconciled and negotiated.

The best way to prepare for the clean energy future is to pass the ComEd and Ameren bill now, and keep the grid delivering for customers and Illinois.

Joe Dominguez, CEO, ComEd

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Home care workers deserve higher wages

I am a home care aide in the Community Care Program and I have been doing this work for eight years now. I love caring for seniors and knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives every day.

I want to take a moment to describe what I do as a home care aide because I’m not sure everyone fully understands how important this work is for our seniors.

The work I do allows seniors to remain living in their own homes. No one should be robbed of their independence, and I want to do this work for as long as I can.

Each morning, I get my client out of bed, get them showered and dressed, prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. I take my client to doctor’s appointments, do laundry and clean their homes. I run errands as they need and shop for their groceries.

Yet, for all that we do, the average home care aide earns only $11.08 an hour. That is not a livable wage.

When I go home at night, I take care of my two young children and my disabled mother. Supporting my family on what I earn is next to impossible.

After I pay bills, purchase necessities and put food on the table, there is nothing left over.

The cost of living continues to go up every year, yet our pay remains the same. Thousands of home care workers are relying on our legislators to raise wages to a minimum of $13 an hour by July 1.

I hope that the people we voted for will understand how important home care is and invest now before it is too late and people like my client lose their trusted caregivers.

Simone Nalls, South Side

‘Fix the FOID Act’ can help mend broken gun laws

The gun violence in this country is honestly alarming.

I have a 13 year-old-son and I am constantly worried about his safety, especially as he gets older and enters high school in a few years. I know I am not the only one who wakes up each morning and goes to bed each night with that fear.

That fear is plaguing parents across the country in the wake of the Sandy Hook and Parkland shootings. Everyday actions, like going to work or school, grabbing a burger, or going to a concert with friends, could change our lives because of senseless gun violence.

Now that more of these tragedies have touched the lives of not just people in Chicago, but across state, more people are using their voice to advocate for better gun control. Social media has given us the platform, but we need to strengthen gun laws and get the officials we vote into office to pass them.

The Fix the FOID Act (SB1966) is an effort to fix a broken system.

Currently there are a lot of loopholes in the gun licensing system. The law will require point-of-sale background checks for all gun sales, an in-person application process for a FOID card, a reduction in the years a FOID card is valid from 10 years to five, and a task force to take away guns from people who have had their FOID card revoked.

I am demanding legislators to take action to protect our communities and fix the FOID not only for my son, but for all the mothers who want their children to come back home to them.

Janet Sanchez, Moms Demand Action, Co-Lead Pilsen, Near West