The Northwest Municipal Conference, representing 42 municipalities including Evanston, late this afternoon dropped opposition to smart grid legislation sought by Commonwealth Edison in return for promises of better response to future storm-related power outages.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl was in Springfield today lobbying for stronger performance guarantees from the utility.

The deal worked out this afternoon calls for the municipal conference and ComEd to develop protocols within the next 45 days to address storm-related outages. The protocols would be filed with, and be enforceable by, the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Before the agreement was reached, both houses of the state legislature had voted to approve the smart grid legislation over the opposition of the municipal conference and Gov. Pat Quinn.

But Tisdahl noted that Sen. Jeff Schoenberg and Reps. Robyn Gabel and Daniel Biss, all of Evanston, voted against it, arguing it didn’t go far enough to address constituent concerns.

“Their unwillingness to accept the trailer bill without firm, developed commitments from ComEd for improvement demonstrated their focus on the needs of the residents of Evanston,” Tisdahl said.

“I hope that the agreement between the Conference and ComEd serves as a key component in an overall legislative solution to bring greater reliability and new technologies to the ComEd electrical grid to better serve Evanston residents,” she added.

Smart grid supporters say it will bring more modern, and more reliable, electric service to the state, but opponents have objected to provisions that will make it easier for the utility companies to increase rates as well as add $3 a month to ComEd bills for the next 10 years to pay for the new infrastructure.

Top: Mayor Tisdahl confers with Sen. Schoenberg outside the Senate Chambers in Springfield.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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