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Pritzker vetoes controversial section of energy omnibus legislation

This article has been updated with a statement from Shawn Schukar, chairman and president of Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois.

Gov. JB Pritzker issued an amendatory veto Wednesday on an energy omnibus bill passed during the legislative session.

The measure covers a variety of issues, including making the Illinois Shines solar program more available to public schools and amending existing laws that deal with solar projects.

Pritzker’s veto removes a controversial section that would give Ameren the right to first refusal on new transmission projects in its region.

Shawn Schukar, chairman and president of Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois, said in a statement that the section would allow transmission capacity to be built in a quicker and more cost-effective manner.

"To do it fast and do it right, with accountability for results, these projects should be managed by trusted local energy companies with a proven track record of success, who already competitively bid the projects with local contractors and union workers," Schukar said.

Opponents of the measure in the General Assembly said the legislation would give Ameren a monopoly. Pritzker echoed a similar sentiment in his veto message, saying that removing competition would increase prices for ratepayers.

“Without competition, Ameren ratepayers will pay for these transmission projects at a much higher cost,” Pritzker said. “Competitively bidding transmission construction, instead of giving the utility a monopoly, has been shown to lower costs significantly."

"My administration is committed to working with stakeholders and our partners in the General Assembly to enact meaningful energy policy, however, I cannot support legislation that puts corporate profits over consumers.”

The legislation goes back to the General Assembly.

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Camryn Cutinello is a reporter at WCBU. You can reach Camryn at cncutin@ilstu.edu.