Oral arguments by the owner of the Sears Tower, and QST Energyagainst Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) were heard yesterday by theIllinois Commerce Commission (ICC). Tower Leasing and QST arefighting ComEd’s refusal to allow installation of a cogenerationsystem at the tower that would save tenants an estimated $2 millionor more a year in energy costs. So far, ComEd has refused to allowQST to acquire or lease Edison’s distribution system inside theSears Tower, a prerequisite to installing the cogeneration (seeNGI May 5, 1997).

The complainants maintain ComEd’s refusal contrasts with itsconsent to 42 other cogenerators, all of whom had been allowed tobuy their distribution systems from ComEd. Oral argumentssummarized the complainants’ exceptions to a recent proposed orderof the ICC hearing examiner that recommended the commission rule infavor of ComEd.

“What we believe the significance of this case is is that weneed to reaffirm the right of customers to self-generate their ownpower,” said Paul Colgan, director of public affairs for theChicago chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association(BOMA), which is watching the case closely. “From the BOMAstandpoint, the ability to interconnect without obstacles from theutility is very important. The utility uses arcane, technicalissues to prevent people from installing their own self-generation.The customer loses because they don’t get the benefit of thoselower costs of self-generation.”

ComEd has maintained allowing the Sears Tower to self generatewould be detrimental to its system. A final decision from thecommission is expected by May 29.

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