The winter heating season is upon us, but while natural gas prices are up from last month, many utilities are charging less than they did last October.
Still, there’s bad news from one of the state’s biggest utilities: Crain’s Chicago Business reports that winter bills for Peoples Gas, which serves Chicago, will be up 15 percent from last winter. Nicor Gas reports bills will be up about 2 percent this winter, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) says average natural gas bills could be about 8 percent higher than last winter. Over the winter season, EIA predicts gas-heating consumers will spend about $550 to heat their homes.
The price per therm you’re paying for natural gas in October, also known as the Purchased Gas Adjustment, or PGA, is shown in the chart below. It includes PGAs from this month, last month and October 2019 for comparison. Hover your mouse over the graphic to show prices.
North Shore has the most expensive rate for October, with 35.17 cents per therm. The rate is 4 cents more than the previous month’s price and almost 3 cents more expensive than the utility’s rate from last October.
MidAmerican’s rate (32.11 cents per therm) is up roughly 11 percent from last year.
But Peoples Gas, Nicor, and Ameren all had lower rates from a year ago. Ameren’s came down about a nickel per therm (about a 13 percent drop) from 2019 to 31.167 cents per therm. Nicor, which had a rate of 26 cents per therm for most of 2020, is now 28 cents per therm.
Peoples Gas had the lowest rate — 24.31 cents per therm — slightly higher than last month, but about 14 percent lower from last October.
Reminder: You cannot switch to another utility. 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 has been plagued by bad deals and rip-offs. The regulated utility prices, listed in this article, are probably your best bet.