Natural gas customers in Illinois are paying the highest supply prices in more than a decade, with many utilities charging nearly $1 a therm or more in July, according to gas price data filed with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). It looks like the high gas prices will extend into the winter, making energy efficiency preparations at home even more key. Check out these efficiency tips to help prepare for the upcoming winter season.
For more than a year, Illinois and the rest of the country have wrestled with elevated natural gas prices. Price spikes are a recurring theme in the fossil fuel industry, and this one was first sparked by extreme weather in February of 2021 and then propped up by other developments, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that have combined to cause ongoing pain for Illinois consumers. (Now, the elevated gas prices are causing electricity prices to skyrocket also–because gas is often used to generate electricity.)
About 80 percent of Illinois homes heat with natural gas, and the past winter was their most expensive winter since the cold season of 2008-09, with many customers paying hundreds of dollars more to heat their homes.
Utilities file new supply prices– called the Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA)– each month. Below are the prices for July.
July Gas Prices
|85.316 cents per therm (up about 29 percent from July 2021)
|$ 1.18 per therm (up about 160 percent from last July)
|97.02 cents per therm (up about 272 percent from last July)
|$1.23 per therm (up about 111 percent from last July)
|92.62 per therm (up about 27 percent from last July)
|81.74 cents per therm (up about 77 percent from last July)
|$1.24 per therm (up about 134 percent from last July)
|North Shore Gas
|$1.03 per therm (up about 98 percent from last July)
|$1.25 per therm (up about 99 percent from last July)
Remember, you cannot switch to another utility. Your utility is determined by where you live.
Under Illinois law, gas utilities are not allowed to profit off supply prices—they pass those costs from gas producers and marketers onto customers with no markup. State regulators annually review the utilities’ gas-management procedures to ensure the companies did a reasonable job with their gas purchases, given market conditions, to hold down costs for consumers as much as possible.
But the gas utilities hide behind these supply and demand excuses. There’s more to this story in Illinois: Aggressive spending and rampant rate hikes by Peoples Gas, Nicor Gas and Ameren Illinois also have contributed to skyrocketing gas bills.
While utilities cannot profit off gas supply, they have increased and profited off another part of the bill: Delivery, what they charge to deliver gas to homes. CUB is working to eliminate the “Qualified Infrastructure Plant” surcharge from Ameren, Nicor and Peoples Gas bills. (Take Action!) The charge, which was created by a law the General Assembly passed in 2013, allows gas utilities to sidestep the traditional regulatory process and rake in revenue more quickly, leading to rapidly rising heating bills.
Please visit CUBHelpCenter.com, a free online resource that explains why energy prices are high, offers efficiency tips, outlines a customer’s rights against disconnection and arms customers with information about energy assistance. If you are having difficulty affording your energy bills, watch CUB’s video on three actions you can take.