ComEd used $60M in ratepayer money for charity, "politically influential" donations
- A portion of each Commonwealth Edison monthly customer bill included electricity delivery rates that were used in part for charitable donations. The utility's donations, detailed in regulatory filings, totaled $60 million over the last eight years.
- Contributions from Illinois' dominant electricity provider went to 600 organizations, including Lincoln Park Zoo, the United Way, and the Chicago Urban League. The Chicago Tribune reports that much of it went to "politically influential" organizations or those close to ComEd and its parent company.
- The utility is taking some heat from the public for what some say are frivolous expenditures. Among many other costs, Com Ed spent $27,000 for a 2013 golf outing hosted by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, reports reveal, and $10,000 for a 2012 cocktail reception honoring ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore.
ComEd described the donations as support for “organizations and programs, which align with the company's community and educational goals and meet our rigorous standards, and benefit our customers and the communities we serve." But now the utility is coming under fire for the size and
The utility told the Tribune a Corporate Citizenship Review Committee at its parent company Exelon approves grants over $50,000 and a utility committee of external affairs, community relations, and economic development people reviews grant proposals.
ComEd delivers electricity to 70% of the Illinois population. The portion of electricity delivery rates used for donations cost an average of about $0.15 per customer per month.
Watchdog group Citizens Utility Board has been pushing for more detailed disclosure of ComEd's charitable gifts since 2012. A 1987 law permits unlimited utility charitable contributions for "public welfare or for charitable scientific, religious or educational purposes."
The Tribune reported that “millions of dollars” in donations were directed at the “politically influential” with “power to aid the state's largest utility” or at those with “close ties to executives of ComEd or Exelon.” The practice of making donations to out-of-state charities was terminated three years ago “at the request of Illinois regulators.”