Client Case Study

ComEd

Public Affairs

THE CHALLENGE

In Spring 2011, ComEd was looking to pass the Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act (SB 1652) in the Illinois General Assembly to modernize Illinois’ electrical grid and help consumers better manage energy costs, reduce outages and power disruptions, meet business demand for high-quality power, expand the economy and create jobs. JT’s challenge was to foster an environment of public and legislative support, create awareness of both the urgency and the benefits of the legislation for all of Illinois, as well as increase understanding of what reform really meant in terms of enhanced consumer protections and corporate accountability. But we faced numerous obstacles including a difficult economic and political environment, due to Illinois’ budget deficit, underfunded pensions and high unemployment, not to mention widespread power outages during a season of historic storms in summer 2011.

THE APPROACH

JT worked with ComEd to develop and implement a targeted communications and outreach strategy aimed at securing both legislative and third-party support of Senate Bill 1652. Our strategy included consistent messaging which focused on the benefits of the legislation in terms of job creation and economic development, as well as improved system reliability and storm response in the wake of the historic weather impacts. We developed a series of in-depth Legislative Bulletins focusing on different benefits of the legislation, coordinated placement of op-ed pieces in daily and local publications by notable third-party supporters and provided on-the-ground strategic communications counsel during legislative sessions in Springfield in the spring and fall. We helped develop high-level executive testimony and messages, and designed, developed maintained an Internet microsite, Twitter and Facebook pages for the campaign

THE RESULTS

  • SB 1652 passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly in May 2011, but was vetoed by Governor Quinn in September.
  • In the fall, JT continued to work with ComEd to communicate with customers, legislators, municipal officials, media and the governor’s office on the need for SB 1652 and grid modernization.
  • Our efforts led to a successful veto override and enactment of the bill by the Illinois House and Senate in October 2011.

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