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Casework roundup: In 40th year, CUB fights old and new rate hikes

CUB’s 40th anniversary is turning out to be another tough year, as we fight old and new rate hikes. 

Major electric and gas utilities were not pleased with Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) rulings issued late last year–and all of them launched legal challenges to the decisions. Plus we’ve got breaking news: Illinois’ two biggest water utilities have now announced that they too are pushing for higher rates. 

Read summaries of the cases, take action at the bottom of this article and support our hard-working legal team

Electric Cases  

ComEd (ICC Docket # 23-0055)

What happened? On Dec. 14, ComEd received a rate hike that amounts to $506 million over four years–about 65 percent less than what it wanted. Plus, the ICC rejected ComEd’s plan for grid upgrades and ordered it to come back in three months with a plan that the company can prove is affordable and beneficial for consumers. 

What’s the latest? ComEd filed a petition for rehearing challenging the ICC ruling.  The ICC approved a narrow rehearing, which means ComEd could win higher rates.  The rehearing starts in February and lasts until around the end of May.

Ameren Illinois (electric) (ICC Docket # 23-0082)

What happened? On Dec. 14, Ameren received a rate hike that amounts to about $56 million over four years–about 87 percent less than what it wanted. The ICC also  rejected the company’s grid plan and ordered it to come back in three months with a plan that was affordable and beneficial for consumers. 

What’s the latest? Ameren filed a petition for rehearing challenging the ICC ruling, hoping to win higher rates. The ICC is considering that petition, and, if approved, the rehearing would last until June.   


Gas Cases

Peoples Gas (ICC Docket # 23-0069)

What happened? On Nov. 16, Peoples Gas received a state-record gas increase that included about $100 million in new customer money flowing to the utility. But that was about $100 million less than what the company wanted. Plus, the company’s pipeline-replacement project, the System Modernization Program–which has helped spark a heating-affordability crisis in Chicago–was paused for regulators to investigate whether it was being properly managed. 

What’s the latest? In December, Peoples Gas filed an emergency motion to claw back about $134 million in funding for its mismanaged pipe program, shamelessly threatening job losses and safety problems if it didn’t get its way. The ICC rejected that motion and instructed the utility that the proper way to air challenges to an ICC ruling is by filing a petition for rehearing. The company did so, and the ICC granted a narrow rehearing. That rehearing begins in early February and will conclude by May. (The pipe-program investigation also begins in February and could take up to a year.)

Nicor Gas (ICC Docket # 23-0066)

What happened? On Nov. 16, Nicor Gas received an increase that included about $164 million in new customer money flowing to the utility. That was about $97 million less than what the company wanted. 

What’s the latest?  Nicor filed a petition for rehearing challenging the ICC ruling. The ICC rejected that petition. 

Ameren Illinois (gas) (ICC Docket #  23-0067)

What happened? On Nov. 16, Ameren received a $72 million rate hike–about $36 million, or half, what the company wanted. 

What’s the latest? Ameren filed a petition for rehearing challenging the ICC ruling. The ICC rejected that petition, and Ameren has appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court. 


Water Cases

NEW: Aqua Illinois Rate Hike (ICC Docket # 24-0044)

What happened? Aqua Illinois on Jan. 17 filed for a $19.2 million rate hike. For the average residential wastewater and water bill (4,000 gallons), Aqua said this would increase rates by $29.91 per month, or about $1 a day. 

What’s the latest? CUB is challenging the rate hike. “A rate hike of up to $30 a month is painfully excessive–and will be a hardship for Aqua customers. CUB has long had concerns about poor service quality and high rates from Aqua,” CUB said in a statement. “Aqua’s parent company has raked in $828 million in profits over the last two years, which begs the question of why the water utility needs to burden its customers with a punishing rate hike.”

NEW: Illinois American Rate Hike (Docket # TBD) 

What happened? Illinois American Water announced on Jan. 25 that it was pushing for a rate hike. Illinois American said the hike would increase water service bills by an average of about $24 per month, while the average residential wastewater bill would increase by about $5 per month, depending on the customer’s service area.

What’s the latest? CUB will challenge the rate hike. “Illinois American’s rate-hike request is severe and greedy, and CUB will do everything it can to reduce it,” CUB said in a statement. “This rate hike–between $5 and $24 per month–will be a hardship to consumers who depend on the utility for a vital service, and that’s why we’re challenging the company’s money-grab.” 


What can consumers do?

Please sign CUB’s petitions for your utility below. 

Tell the ICC to say no to Ameren Illinois (electric). 

Tell the ICC to say no to ComEd.

Tell the ICC to say no to Aqua Illinois.

Tell the ICC to say no to Illinois American.  

Tell the ICC to say no to Peoples Gas.