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Illinois utility board says rate hikes will cost 20,000 jobs

By Adam Allington, KWMU

Alton, Il – An impact study by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) claims that electrical rate hikes which took effect in January will result in the loss of some 20,000 Illinois jobs.

CUB says the logic is simple-Ameren and ComEd raise rates an average of 40-50 percent-and small and medium sized business to either close up shop or leave the state.

According to the utility company's own data, the rate hikes are likely to cost Illinois consumers an additional 2.3 billion dollars.

That news has politicians like Bill Haine of Alton dead set on rolling back rate hikes.

"What we have here in an impoverishment of southern Illinois and its taking money out of the economy and shipping it to the corporate headquarters of Ameren," says Haine.

After a ten year rate freeze, utilities were allowed to increase rates last month. The fallout from those increases has prompted a hail of criticism from both consumers and politicians.

Carl Officer is the mayor of East St. Louis, Illinois; he says that increases have put significant economic pressure on both businesses and consumers who are already strapped.

"We need relief now, we cannot wait until April, we cannot wait until May", says Officer, "I believe if do delay will, that we'll placing the lives of so many residents and the future of our Illinois economy in serious jeopardy."

The utility board calculates that increased rates are costing Illinois consumers an additional 6.5 million dollars per day.

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to hear a bill as early as Wednesday that would roll back rates to December 31st levels.