chicago news

Board reduces Peoples Gas request for $402 million rate hike

Peoples Gas had requested a $402 million rate hike for next year, while environmental and community activists are protest against it

The Illinois Commerce Commission revealed Thursday that they had slashed the rate hike request of Peoples Gas, but rates will still go up in the start of the new year.

According to the ICC, Peoples Gas had initially sought a rate increase that would raise more than $400 million, but the commission cut that by roughly 25%, according to a press release.

Still, Illinois residents who receive natural gas service from the company will see their rates go up at the beginning of the year, though the exact average increase was not immediately available.

The original request would have increased a customer’s bill by an average of $11.83, according to officials.

In a statement, the ICC says that they are working with Peoples Gas to move Illinois toward more clean-burning fuel in coming years.

“As the state embarks on a journey toward a 100% clean energy economy, the gas system’s operations will not continue to exist in its current form. Identifying how our gas and electric systems can adapt to meet these goals, and what specific actions should be taken to achieve them, will be an important task for the commission moving forward,” chairman Doug Scott said in a statement.

The company issued a statement following the ICC ruling, saying they will continue to work with the commission on implementation of the rate increases and on transitioning to more clean-burning methods of producing power and heat.

“We will fully review the final order to determine its impact on our customers and operations. We look forward to actively participating in future proceedings and demonstrating how our energy delivery system is critical to Chicago’s clean energy future. We are pleased the commission shares our concern about safety,” a spokesperson said.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Peoples charges $15 per month to fund a pipeline replacement program in the city of Chicago. In addition, most customers pay $50 per month in fixed costs before using any gas, according to the paper.

Amid discussions over the rate increase environmental activists called on the ICC to start investing in alternative methods of energy.

"We don’t think consumers should be having to spend more money to rebuild fossil fuel pipelines," said activist Caroline Wooten. "We have solutions. There are induction stoves, there are heat pumps. ... We want to be investing in that rather than investing in fossil fuels. We need to start now if we’re going to transition, and we want it to be planned.”

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