Flickr User James Bowe / "Lightbulb" (CC BY 2.0)

A Chicago-area utility is warning customers about scam artists posing as employees.

Commonwealth Edison said yesterday it has seen an increase in scam reports.

The utility says con artists have been contacting small businesses and other customers by phone and in person. They claim to be ComEd representatives seeking payment.

Sometimes the impostors claim a customer's billing cycle has changed and an immediate payment is required. They have instructed people to buy a prepaid credit card and to call back with a personal identification number.

Flickr User James Bowe / "Lightbulb" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved a rate decrease for ComEd and rates increase for Ameren Illinois.

ComEd says the lowered delivery rate announced Wednesday is the result of efficiencies generated from the continuing rollout of its smart grid. The rate decrease is expected to mean the average residential customer should pay about $1 a month less on their bill, starting next month.

The commission approved a $67 million rate decrease -- $17 million more than the $50 million decrease ComEd proposed.

Flickr user E Photos / "IMG_1927 - Power Lines" (CC v 2.0)

Commonwealth Edison's CEO says the state's largest utility is about halfway through with a major component of a grid modernization program.

A controversial law passed in 2011 hiked the price for the delivery of electricity. Ameren and ComEd were to use the money for infrastructure upgrades, like the installation of so-called "smart meters."

Smart meters are digital devices that measure electricity use, and send that information back to the utilities.

ComEd / Wikipedia

Grants from a utility company will help communities in northern Illinois improve safety.

Concerned about storms that have ripped through the area, the City of Harvard will use its grant to replace outdated warning sirens.

The Village of Kingston will acquire a speed detector to enhance safety on the state highway that runs through town and the local grade-school zone. Two other recipients will get automated external defibrillators, also known as AEDs.

ComEd is inviting seniors citizens in Rockford to apply for the “Senior Giving” hardship fund program. 

It’s part of the utility’s CARE program, which offers financial aid options for customers with past due electric bills. The program is available through December 24th, or while funds are available. 

Customers can apply at the office of Community Action on Court Street.