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Despite price drop, natural gas supply rates still high compared to 2020

Several natural gas utilities have dropped their prices slightly in December after months of ballooning prices. Despite the slight decrease, natural gas prices are still two to three times greater than they were last December.

Current natural gas prices are related to an extreme cold snap that froze natural gas pipelines and wellheads in the South last winter, limiting supply across the country just as heating demand was shooting up. Decreased exploration and well construction are also contributing factors.

The price per therm you’ll pay for natural gas in December, also known as the Purchased Gas Adjustment, or PGA, is shown in the chart below. It includes PGAs from this month, last month and December 2020 for comparison. Hover your mouse over the graphic to show prices.

Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Mount Carmel, Liberty Utilities and Consumers Gas all lowered their prices this month. Peoples Gas lowered its price more than 5 cents to 68.14 cents per therm. Despite the lowered price, this supply rate is still a 153 percent increase from last December’s 26.91 cents per therm. North Shore Gas customers will see an 8 cents per therm drop on their bills to 60.93 cents per therm.

While most utilities lowered their prices slightly, a few continued to raise their supply rate.

Ameren’s price jumped a penny, to 69.67 cents per therm. Consumers Gas customers will see an increase of more than 6 cents, to 68.16 cents, a 123 percent increase from last December. Illinois Gas also raised its supply rate by 1.5 cents. 

Nicor Gas maintained its price at 68 cents. 

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 utility bill assistance, winter heating safety and efficiency.