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Brace yourself: October gas prices more than double 2020 supply rates

Most Illinois natural gas utilities in October are charging more than double their 2020 prices, according to preliminary tariff filings. Natural gas prices have been on the rise since early this year, causing growing concern as winter weather draws near.

These appear to be the highest winter heating season prices many Illinois consumers have seen since 2008-09.

Current natural gas prices are one of the lingering effects of an extreme cold snap that brought record-low temperatures across the nation this past February. The extreme weather, attributed to climate change, froze natural gas pipelines and wellheads in Texas and other areas of the South, limiting supply across the country just as heating demand was shooting up. 

The limited supply coupled with high demand resulted in skyrocketing market prices. Utilities in Illinois for most of the year have been charging high natural gas prices — this month, most are charging about double or triple prices from 2020. (There are other factors contributing to high prices. Read CUB’s Q&A.

The price per therm you’ll pay 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 2020 for comparison. Hover your mouse over the graphic to show prices.

Mount Carmel had the largest per-therm increase from last month, shooting up more than 40 cents from September. The utility has a current rate of just over a dollar, which is also the highest price of any utility for October. 

Ameren’s price increased by less than a penny, to 66.72 cents, the smallest increase from last month. 

Nicor went up 10 cents from last month, to 63 cents per therm, which is more than double the 28 cents per therm the utility charged in October 2020. 

Peoples Gas is charging 72.56 cents, and North Shore customers will pay 67.19 cents per therm.

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 be careful: That market has been plagued by bad deals and rip-offs. 

Suppliers may try to use the headlines about high prices to lure you into a bad deal. Remember, suppliers are impacted by the same market conditions that are causing utility supply rates to go up. If an offer from a supplier seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.  

With these high prices, CUB encourages consumers to be prudent with their gas usage and practice energy efficiency when possible to help lower bills. Visit the CUB Help Center for more information about winter heating safety and reducing your heating bills. If you’re having a hard time paying your bills, we list your options for getting assistance.