The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 9, 2013

Invest in infrastructure


SWANSEA — Editor:

Strict regulatory oversight, consumer protections and safeguards remain strong in a plan that makes it possible for Illinois natural gas utilities to accelerate their infrastructure modernization efforts that are designed to meet stricter federal pipeline safety standards imposed by Congress in 2011. Consumers, employers and workers benefit from this system.

The Natural Gas Modernization, Public Safety & Jobs Act (SB 1665/HB2414) keeps the Illinois Commerce Commission on the job while making it possible for utilities to recover initial costs more quickly.

The 10-year plan requires crucial investment in our vital energy infrastructure and workforce, giving Illinois an economic shot-in-the-arm by creating and supporting 1,250 jobs statewide. Ameren Illinois would invest $330 million to accelerate its ongoing modernization program, creating 250 high-skilled jobs.

The plan enhances customer service, reduces estimated gas bills, creates new opportunities for customer choice and trims maintenance costs — ultimately providing long-term customer savings. Safeguards hold the utilities accountable, requiring them to meet performance-based goals. The ICC will closely monitor the process and level penalties if utilities fail to comply.

An Ameren Illinois residential gas customer (using 785 therms annually) would experience an average increase of $3.70 per year each year of the 10-year program.

Please join our 5,000 working men and women, the Illinois Business Roundtable and Illinois AFL-CIO to pass this bill at

Glyn Ramage

Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA)