In August 2007, severe storms knocked out power to several homes in the Chicago area. In Sheffler v. Commonwealth Edison Co., a group of Commonwealth Edison customers alleged that they suffered damages as a result of the electrical power outages such as spoiled food, water damage, and damage to electrical equipment.
Tariffs enacted under the Public Utility Act not only set rates for utility services, but also set limits on ComEd’s liability for damages due to power outages caused by weather. Those limits are based on the policy that ComEd’s liability must be limited in order to keep rates low for ComEd’s customers. The Act also specifies claims which must be brought before the Illinois Commerce Commission as opposed to claims which can be brought in circuit court.
Here, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the complaint. The Court found that the complaint related to the provision of electrical service, and therefore, it was a claim which must be brought before the Illinois Commerce Commission instead of the courts. In addition, the Court found that the complaint was barred by ComEd’s tariff enacted under the Public Utility Act which bars claims based on equipment malfunctions caused by weather.
To read the Court’s full opinion, click here: Sheffler v. ComEd