The Exelon and ComEd Shell Game

By: Ray Hanania

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Ray Hanania

When things are not going there way, Exelon tosses ComEd to the wolves, arguing (falsely) that the huge profits Exelon generates has nothing to do with the financial loses that it’s sibling ComEd cites as justification for rate hikes. And then there are those times that Exelon needs someone based in Chicago — ComEd — to help the public better understand the real issues, like when it argues in a full page (and expensive) ad in the Chicago Tribune that says the owners of coal plants (Exelon) are responsible people who are not really polluting the air with hazardous emissions.

That ad was in this week’s Chicago Tribune in response to a story that implied pretty clearly that ComEd needs to raise rates to cover its shortfalls — actually to off-set the slightly lower huge profits that Exelon corporate officials enjoy. The big bucks are not coming as big as they used to, so now they need the public to shore up those multi-million dollar bonuses and salaries of Exelon’s robber barons. Here’s the basic shell game. Exelon owns ComEd and makes hundreds of millions. But ComEd is always panhandling for taxpayer funded charity from the government.

Many coal plants are going to close because of the tightening economy and stricter EPA regulations which basically argue that human beings should be able to breathe clean air that does not cause cancer or lung diseases. And Exelon is unhappy about that and needs to have its poverty stricter satellite network to argue in favor of higher rates. ComEd, the puppet owned by Exelon’s robber barons, is asking for just such a major rate hike. Bills could increase by as much as 40 to 60 percent, sticker shock that would galvanize the opposition to a hike in the costs of electricity.

Exelon, remember, paid for the ad, not ComEd. That would look bad if ComEd spent money for propaganda that it can’t afford. But the ad talks about how consumer can conserve on energy, like lowering the heat when it gets cold and reducing the use of air conditioners when it gets too hot. They’ve been saying that for years. In my home, our heat temperature setting rarely goes beyond 68 degrees, except when it is so excessively cold we need to warm up the blood vessels so that we can actually breathe. And in the summer, when temperatures soar into the 90s, we rarely set the temperature lower than 78 degrees, just to make it acceptable.

What Exelon and ComEd want us to do is to set the thermostat to whatever the outdoor temperature is and argue that no temperature control is probably better if we don’t like the rate increases. As customers more their thermostats closer to the outside temperatures, that’s less profit for them. So they need that extra fee so they can make up for any minor changes in their own monetary “temperatures” which pay millions to its owners. Exelon — remember not ComEd — concludes in their ad: “As a result of these sensible policies, Illinois customers can have electricity that is reliable, affordable and clean. Exelon and ComEd are ready to do our part to achieve this worthwhile goal.”

Really, how about trim back the profits of the robber baron owners; tell the truth about the danger coal energy has posed to our world; and, live within your own means. If I have to suffer through hot summers and arctic winters, Exelon should be forced to profit just a little bit less.

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media consultant. He can be reached at

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