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Hawkins v. Commonwealth Edison Co.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

February 17, 2015

ROBIN HAWKINS, Both Individually and d/b/a Robin's Nest, a sole proprietorship, ROBERT DILLON, an individual, and GOT IT MAID, INC., an Illinois Business Corporation, on Behalf of Themselves, and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
COMMONWEALTH EDISON COMPANY, an Illinois Corporation, Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 2013 CH 9126. Honorable Mary L. Mikva, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

Plaintiffs' class action alleging that defendant electric utility failed to comply with an order of the Illinois Commerce Commission based on a revised timeline for the deployment of smart meters in the utility's transmission system pursuant to the act commonly known as the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act was properly dismissed by the trial court on the ground that the complaint concerned the utility's rates and infrastructure, which fell exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Commission pursuant to Sheffler.

For APPELLANT: Law Offices of Paul G. Neilan, P.C., Chicago, IL (Paul G. Neilan, of counsel); Valorem Law Group, Chicago, IL ( Stuart J. Chanen, of counsel).

For APPELLEE: Commonwealth Edison Company, Chicago, IL, (Thomas S. O'Neil, of counsel); Eimer Stahl LLP, Chicago, IL (David M. Stahl and David M. Simon, of counsel).

JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Delort and Justice Cunningham concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HARRIS, JUSTICE.

Page 870

[¶1] Plaintiffs, Robin Hawkins, Robert Dillon, and Got It Maid, Inc., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, appeal the order of the circuit court dismissing their complaint against defendant, Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial court relied on the supreme court's holding in Sheffler v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 2011 IL 110166, 955 N.E.2d 1110, 353 Ill.Dec. 299, and found that since plaintiffs' complaint concerned the utility's rates and infrastructure, the Illinois Commerce Commission (Commission) has exclusive jurisdiction over the action. On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in interpreting the holding of Sheffler and applying it to the case at bar. For the following reasons, we affirm.

[¶2] JURISDICTION

Page 871

[¶3] The trial court granted ComEd's motion to dismiss on November 1, 2013. Plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal on November 20, 2013. Accordingly, this court has jurisdiction pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rules 301 and 303 governing appeals from final judgments entered below. Ill. S.Ct. R. 301 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994); R. 303 (eff. May 30, 2008).

[¶4] BACKGROUND

[¶5] In 2011 the General Assembly enacted what is commonly known as the Illinois Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (EIMA) in order to revitalize and improve the state's energy infrastructure, create jobs, and promote economic growth. 220 ILCS 5/16-108.5 (West 2012). The EIMA sets forth investment plans for participating utilities that require them to invest in " electric system upgrades, modernization projects, and training facilities," as well as the modernization of their transmission and distribution infrastructures. 220 ILCS 5/16-108.5(b)(1), (2) (West 2012). Participation in the investment plans is voluntary; however, the statute provides an incentive by allowing participating utilities to recover their " expenditures made under the infrastructure investment program through the ratemaking process." 220 ILCS 5/16-108.5(b) (West 2012). ComEd ...


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