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March update: Gas prices continue downward trend—but higher prices could be on the horizon

Most natural gas utilities decreased or maintained their price from last month and all  lowered their rates from March 2019.

This general trend has continued for three consecutive months, but federal officials predict that could come to an end soon. Here’s our monthly review of gas prices:  

Illinois Gas, a small utility in southeastern Illinois, had the largest drop in its gas price and the lowest rate  overall, falling 8.4 cents⁠. At 16.07 cents per therm, the utility’ price is almost 35 percent lower than last month, and 42 percent lower from March 2019. Another significant drop came from one of the state’s biggest utilities, Peoples Gas, which fell from 27.09 cents to 21.78 cents. 

Like Liberty Utilities, Consumers, Mount Carmel and North Shore, Ameren’s rate decreased by a few cents from February. However, the gas utility for much of Central and Southern Illinois maintained the highest rate for the second month in a row—33.07 cents this month and 34.39 in February.

Nicor’s rate stayed the same, charging 26 cents per therm for the third month in a row. This time last year, Nicor was charging 36 cents per therm, exactly 10 cents more than their current rate.

MidAmerican Energy was the only increase, from 28.27 cents to 29.84 cents. However, the utility’s rate is still lower than last March when it was charging almost 41 cents per therm.

Natural gas rates have been on a downward trend thanks to record-setting production levels, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts prices will rise this spring. The EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, released this February, forecasts a decline in domestic natural gas production and subsequent price increases. 

We’ll see how that translates to Illinois. 

Reminder: You cannot switch to another utility company. Utility service territories are geographic: Your utility is determined by where you live. Nicor, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas can switch to alternative suppliers, but that market is plagued by bad deals. Your regulated utility price listed in this article is probably your cheapest option.