Nov 16, 2023 - News

What to know about proposed Peoples Gas rate hike in Chicago

Illustration of a pipeline surrounded by money elements and abstract shapes.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Illinois regulators are scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposed Peoples Gas rate hike of $11.83 on residents' monthly bills.

Why it matters: If approved, more than 800,000 customers across Chicago could see the rate hike as early as next month.

Between the lines: The increase could be especially difficult for Black and brown Chicagoans, who receive the most disconnections notices due to lack of payment, according to consumer advocates at the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and Illinois PIRG.

What's happening: The Illinois Commerce Commission is considering the hike as Peoples Gas needs $195 million to modernize the metering infrastructure and outdated maintenance facilities.

  • That's in addition to the $207 million the utility allocated to update about 2,000 miles of outdated pipes they say were more susceptible to leaks.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for Peoples Gas says customers won't see a major difference in their final monthly bill as the current price of natural gas has been declining, canceling out the increase.

Yes, but: The cost of natural gas fluctuates based on a number of factors, including production and weather conditions.

The other side: "I've heard from a lot of Chicagoans overwhelmed by their bills. Some customers are forced to choose between keeping enough food on the table and keeping the heat on," CUB's Ivonne Rychwa said in a statement.

Of note: Peoples Gas offers rebates on some energy-saving home improvements.

Be smart: Here are some tips on how to shave some cents off your bill:

  • Weatherstrip to seal any air leaks
  • Clean or replace furnace filters to make sure the warm air is getting through
  • Turn down the thermostat. You can save as much as 10% a year by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10° for 8 hours a day.
  • Check out the latest tech if you're in the market for a new furnace. Newer ones cut heat loss when they're not running.
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