We’re officially one month from winter heating season. Based on future prices, we’re looking at a painful winter, especially as 1 in 6 Americans are struggling to keep up with their utility bills.
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. This month’s supply prices are up anywhere from 147 percent to 377 percent higher than they were in September 2020.
Gas utilities file new supply prices– called the Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA)– each month. Below are the prices for September.
September Gas Prices
|Ameren Illinois||86.23 cents per therm (up about 30 percent from September 2021)|
|Consumers Gas||$1.06 per therm (up about 46 percent from last September)|
|Illinois Gas||87.36 cents per therm (up about 118 percent from last September)|
|Liberty Utilities||$1.15 per therm (up about 149 percent from last September)|
|MidAmerican Energy||$1.08 per therm (up about 31 percent from last September)|
|Mt. Carmel||88.77 cents per therm (up about 49 percent from last September)|
|Nicor Gas||$1.24 per therm (up about 134 percent from last September)|
|North Shore Gas||92.65 cents per therm (up about 60 percent from last September)|
|Peoples Gas||$1.05 per therm (up about 58 percent from last September)|
Your utility is determined by where you live, so you cannot switch from one utility to another.
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 (and CUB) 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.
Gas supply 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.)
But the gas utilities hide behind 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.
NOTE: Please visit CUBHelpCenter.com for information on high energy prices, efficiency tips, consumer rights against disconnection, and information about financial assistance programs. If you are having difficulty affording your energy bills, watch CUB’s video on three actions you can take.