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September 2011 Newsletter

Public Private Partnerships Bill is Signed by Governor

I was the chief sponsor of legislation in the House that Governor Pat Quinn has recently signed.  House Bill 1091 creates The Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) for Transportation Act.

This legislation will put one more tool in our transportation toolkit.  As government funding for infrastructure dries up, we need new models for modernizing our roads, rails, and airports.

Federal funding for roads and other transportation assets is drying up.  The Federal motor fuel tax is due to expire on September 30, 2011 and the reauthorization by Congress of transportation funding is two years overdue.  The era of significant federal funding for transportation seems to be over, and states must react by finding creative solutions.

This bill aims promotes the sound development and operation of transportation facilities in Illinois by authorizing public-private partnerships for construction of new transportation infrastructure projects.  Authorizing public-private partnerships will allow Illinois to seek new sources of investment capital and more efficiently deliver infrastructure improvements, to improve our transportation system to better serve the needs of Illinois residents and businesses.

Throughout the legislative session many organizations and government bodies, including Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties were supportive of the bill.  Others organizations included the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce.

Electric Reliability

The summer of 2011 is certainly one for the record books.  Unfortunately, those records include the electric outages we endured as a result of several extreme weather events. The Illinois legislature and municipalities across the north and northwest suburbs have held numerous meetings and hearings to learn more about electricity reliability and Commonwealth Edison’s efforts to prevent service disruptions and more efficiently and effectively restore power after storms.

I have very serious concerns about the level of routine maintenance performed by ComEd.  At a meeting of the House Public Utilities Committee held in Highland Park in August, I pointed out that the “inspections and maintenance” portion of their budget is lower in 2010 and 2011 than in 2005 through 2008 budgets.  This is the very budget that pays for tree trimming and other routine unkeep.  The Illinois Commerce Commission, in its “Assessment of ComEd Reliability Report and Reliability Performance for 2009” highlighted that “it is very difficult to achieve a decrease in maintenance expense without adversely impacting reliability.”  This is just once instance in which ComEd has failed to provide adequate maintenance to avoid outages.

 

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