Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Monday that her office is calling for an investigation into Peoples Gas after a "shocking" audit report revealed the company may have withheld catapulting costs to consumers from the Illinois Commerce Commission.
The audit report found that the Peoples' Accelerated Main Replacement Program could cost consumers a staggering $8 billion, an estimate that Madigan claims may not have been reported to the ICC in an effort to gain approval of the company's recent merger with the Wisconsin Energy Group. The $8 billion hike would cost each customer an average of $7,700 more by the time the project is completed in about 20 years.
In response, Madigan's office filed two petitions with the ICC to investigate the program. The first petition asks the ICC to investigate whether Peoples Gas violated the Public Utilities Act by withholding the estimated $8 billion cost, and the second one asks the ICC to investigate the restructuring of the Peoples' Accelerated Main Replacement Program.
"This project is a disaster that raises serious questions about the safety, reliability and affordability of Peoples Gas service," Madigan said. "The shocking report from the ICC's auditors is a call to action to completely reexamine the Accelerated Main Replacement Program and immediately address whether Peoples Gas executives misled consumers."
After Madigan's announcement, a spokesperson for Peoples Gas said the company agreed with Madigan that the Accelerated Main Replacement Program "needed a fresh start." She also added that results of a review of the program will be presented to the ICC by the end of the month.
"As soon as Wisconsin Energy Group acquired Peoples Gas, our new management team began to take aggressive actions to improve the oversight and performance of the project," the Peoples Gas spokesperson said in a statement. "After the acquisition closed, our new management team learned that the previous outside contractor had developed an estimate showing that the program cost might rise to as much as $8 billion voer the 20-year period."