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‘Rate-hike barrage’: Illinois utilities launch unprecedented campaign to raise rates by a combined total of $2.8 billion

CUB’s legal team faces an unprecedented challenge, as five of Illinois’ major utilities are asking for delivery rate hikes totaling $2.8 billion. 

Illinois consumers know how important this fight is–with the rising cost of living due to inflation, many of them face hard decisions. Nearly 34% of American households reduced or skipped basic expenses to pay their utility bills, according to a recent study by Lending Tree.

“This is an unprecedented rate-hike barrage by Illinois’ major utilities, but we’re not giving up,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said. “We will challenge each of these rate hikes, expose excessive profit rates and do whatever we can to reduce these increases as much as possible.”

Here’s a summary of the rate-hike cases: 

ComEd

Rate-hike request: $1.47 billion over four years. Under the request, ComEd would raise electric delivery rates by a record $894 million in the first year alone, which would be ComEd’s highest one-year increase ever. After that, rates would increase by an average of $198 million annually from 2024 through 2027. (ComEd received a $199 million electric rate hike on Jan. 1, 2023.)

When announced: Jan. 17, Illinois Commerce Commission Docket Number: 23-0055

How it will impact consumers: $4.25 a month, on average, each year, for a cumulative increase of $17 a month by 2027. (Here’s a year-by-year breakdown: $6.72 a month in 2024; $5.73 increase in 2025; $6.20 increase in 2026; $1.67 decrease in 2027.)

What CUB says: “CUB will do a thorough review, but it’s immediately clear that the utility giant wants an excessive profit rate for shareholders,” CUB said in a statement, “Making strategically smart, consumer-friendly grid improvements can help save customers money in the long run, but that shouldn’t mean ComEd gets an excessive profit rate for shareholders.”

Take Action:


Ameren Illinois (electric)

Rate-hike request: $435.6 million over four years. (ComEd received a $199 million rate hike in January of 2023.)

When announced: Jan. 20, Illinois Commerce Commission Docket Number: 23-0082

How it will impact consumers: In a public notice, Ameren said a residential customer using 10,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually (or an average of about 833 kWh monthly) would see an average monthly bill increase of $6.07 (3.9 percent) in 2024; $9.50 (5.9 percent) in 2025; $5.47 (3.2 percent) in 2026; and $4.04 (2.3 percent) in 2027.

What CUB says: We will review Ameren’s proposal carefully, but at first glance it is clear that the company is asking for an excessive 10.5 percent profit rate for its shareholders. Smart, cost-efficient utility investments in the power grid can help advance affordable clean energy and save money for customers in the long run, but too often utilities like Ameren want a blank check. CUB will do a thorough review of Ameren’s rate cases, and we will challenge every penny the company can’t justify.

Take Action:


Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas

Rate-hike requests:

  • Peoples Gas: $402 million rate-hike–a roughly 59 percent increase in delivery rates. This is the highest gas rate-hike request in Illinois history. 
  • North Shore Gas: $18.5 million–about a 19 percent increase in delivery rates. (The company received a $4 million increase in 2021.)

When announced: Jan. 6, Illinois Commerce Commission Docket Numbers: 23-0069 (Peoples Gas) and 23-0068 (North Shore Gas)

How it will impact consumers:

  • Peoples Gas: $11.83 a month, on average
  • North Shore Gas: $6 a month, on average

What CUB says:

  • Peoples Gas: “The City, Illinois Attorney General’s Office and CUB will challenge this excessive rate hike on behalf of residents, and we urge the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to take action to stop these increases and protect all customers,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said.
  • North Shore Gas: We will challenge this increase, which comes at a horrible time for North Shore Gas customers–in the middle of elevated energy prices and less than two years after the company received a $4 million increase.

Take Action:


Nicor Gas

Rate-hike request: $321 million. This is the fourth record rate-hike request for Nicor since 2017.

When announced: Jan. 4, Illinois Commerce Commission Docket Number: 23-0066

How it will impact consumers: $9.28 a month, on average

What CUB says: “Nicor Gas customers have seen their delivery rates increase by about 77 percent, or more than $500 million, in the last five years,” CUB said in a statement. “Now, Nicor–whose parent company rakes in billions of dollars in profits–is back at the table asking for another record rate hike from its customers.”

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Ameren Illinois (gas)

Rate-hike request: $160.4 million. (Ameren received a $76 million rate hike in January 2021.)

When announced: Jan. 6, Illinois Commerce Commission Docket Number: 23-0067

How it will impact consumers: In a public notice, Ameren said a residential customer using about 745 therms a year, or about 62 therms monthly, would pay an extra $6.68 a month.

What CUB says: We will challenge this rate hike, which couldn’t come at a worse time. Energy prices are elevated, and Ameren received a $76 million gas increase in January 2021 and more than $118 million in electric rate hikes since 2022 ($57.6 million in January 2022 and $61 million in January 2023).

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All of these rate-hike requests will be ruled on by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) after 11-month rate cases, and they will impact rates next January. “The ICC faces a big job in getting its rate review process right. But failure to do so is not an option,” the Chicago Sun-Times said in an editorial. 

What’s more maddening is that several companies had already increased their rates as of Jan. 1: Illinois American Water received an increase of about $85 million (CUB helped cut it by about $14 million); Ameren Illinois raised electric rates by about $61 million (CUB helped cut it by about $20 million); and ComEd received a $199 million increase. 

If you’re having trouble affording your utility bills, please reach out for assistance. Contact your utility to find out about assistance programs and payment plans available. Consumers can apply for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) with their local community action agency, more information is available by calling 1-877-411-9276.

Visit the CUB Help Center and our Financial Resources page for more information and efficiency tips.