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ICC to hold public forum on Peoples Gas’ state record $402 million rate hike

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) is urging Chicago customers to attend a public forum to voice their opposition to a push by Peoples Gas for the largest gas rate hike in Illinois history. Chicago’s gas utility has had six straight years of record profit while large sections of the city sink deeper into an affordability crisis, CUB said. 

The in-person event is:

6 p.m.–9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1,
University of Illinois-Chicago,
Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum
725 W Roosevelt Rd.
Chicago, IL 60608

(Note: A coalition of consumer and environmental groups is fighting the rate hike. If you want to speak out against the increase at the forum, RSVP here.)

Representatives of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) will be there to accept public comments submitted both verbally or written. Verbal comments will be limited to three minutes per person. 

“This is the most significant gas rate-hike battle Chicago consumers have ever faced, so we need a capacity crowd at this public forum,” CUB Executive Director Sarah Moskowitz said. “If you can’t make it, please file a comment against the increase at the ICC website. Gas bills are unaffordable to a large number of Chicago families–we can’t afford to let Peoples Gas get a blank check.” 

In expert testimony filed in May, CUB cited inflated spending and an excessive profit rate for shareholders in recommending that state regulators cut the hike by at least $63 million. CUB hopes to push that number past $100 million by adopting reductions proposed by other parties, such as the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the staff of the ICC.  

For consumers not able to attend, public comments can be left on the ICC website on Docket No. 23-0069 or by calling toll-free at 1-800-524-0795 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Peoples Gas filed its $402 million rate-hike request in January, what would be the largest gas increase in Illinois history. It would hit customers with an average of about $11.83 a month, or about $140 a year, in extra costs in January 2024. That proposed increase plus five others filed by utility companies in 2023 total a record $2.9 billion. 

Chicago gas customers have suffered for years under a crisis of rapidly rising utility costs, fueled by Peoples’ reckless spending in its mismanaged pipeline-replacement program and six straight years of record profits. Launched in 2011, the pipeline project has been behind-schedule and over-budget almost from the beginning, with its projected costs rising from about $2 billion to as much as $11 billion. 

That has taken a toll on Peoples Gas customers. Statistics from the utility have consistently shown about one in five Peoples Gas customers were more than 30 days behind on their bills–and the proposed rate hike could make conditions even worse.

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