Your Bills Could Be Going Up After Nicor Gas Files Request for $321 Million Rate Hike

Nicor said the change would lead to an increase in gas bills of about $9.28 per month for the company's roughly 2.3 million customers

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It’s cold outside, which means your energy bills will start heating up. Here are five easy tricks to cool off your utility bills this winter.

Millions of residents in the Chicago area could see higher gas bills next year after Nicor Gas filed a request for a $321 million rate hike with the Illinois Commerce Commission this week.

Nicor said the request would "adjust rates to allow the company to meet the current and future demands of our 2.3 million customers for clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service."

The change would lead to an increase in gas bills of about $9.28 per month for the company's roughly 2.3 million customers, a spokesperson told NBC Chicago Wednesday. The commission has 11 months to rule on the request.

"Nicor Gas realizes the impact any rate increase can have on customers and does not make this request lightly; however, this rate increase is necessary to run our business due to inflation and rising global impacts that continue to affect our operating and maintenance costs," Nicor said in a statement. "The company’s cost of service is now increasing due to continued investments in our system infrastructure to meet new federal compliance-related regulations and industry best practices that help ensure system-wide reliability while proactively lowering our operational methane and greenhouse gas emissions."

And another rate increase request could soon be in store from Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, according to reports.

The Chicago Tribune reports the companies filed a waiver with the ICC. The companies did not respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment, but the Tribune reports a spokesman declined to confirm if a rate hike request was coming.

The Citizens Utility Board called the rate increase request from Nicor a "gut punch to consumers who are in their second consecutive winter of painfully high gas bills."

"Enough is enough," CUB Executive Director David Kolata said in a statement. "CUB will review Nicor’s excessive request and we will fight every penny the utility can’t justify."

Nicor, meanwhile, said it recognizes "that current economic inflation and continued impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have put many customers in our communities in financial distress."

But the rate increase request is one of several from the company over the last few years.

In 2019, the ICC approved a rate hike of roughly $240 million. And in 2018, the company saw its first hike in nearly a decade, as the commission approved a $137.1 million revenue increase.

The company noted in September that it offers a number of bill assistance programs "to help offset winter heating costs when eligible household budgets may not be able to keep up with the increased heating demands." Details on those programs can be found here.

The state of Illinois also offers energy bill and utility assistance to qualifying families. Details can be found here.

To help manage heating bills amid cold winter months and save energy, Nicor previously offered the following tips:

  • Regularly replace air and furnace filters; most filters should be cleaned or replaced every 60-90 days
  • Open window coverings during the day to allow sunlight to heat your home naturally, and close curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows
  • Keep furniture, drapes, stuffed animals and other objects away from heating sources
  • Adjust timer controls and programmable thermostats
  • "Winterize" the home by finding and sealing leaks and replacing older, less energy efficient gas appliances
  • Repair windows that don’t close properly and replace single-pane windows with more efficient ones
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