State Representative John Egofske stands in firm opposition to the recent recommendations by state officials for natural gas rate increases, which are set to impact over 4.1 million consumers in Illinois. The recommendations, made by administrative judges at the Illinois Commerce Commission, are currently under consideration by the commission, with a final decision expected before the end of the year.
The proposed rate increases, if approved, would significantly affect the monthly bills of utility customers in Illinois. Ameren Illinois, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, and North Shore Gas have all sought rate hikes that could lead to higher costs for consumers, effective in January.
Nicor Gas, serving 2.2 million Illinoisans, has proposed an increase that could raise customer bills by approximately $9.28 per month. Ameren customers can also expect to see their bills rise by several dollars per month. Peoples Gas contends that customer bills will remain at similar levels to last winter due to the falling price of natural gas.
Consumer and environmental advocates have voiced concerns over the proposed rate increases, with groups like Illinois PIRG opposing them and asserting that utilities are not spending their resources responsibly. Abe Scarr, the director of PIRG, anticipates that the commission will need to make modifications that are more consumer-conscious and environmentally responsible.
Rep. Egofske shared his concerns about the potential impacts of these rate increases, stating, “As a state representative, I am deeply troubled by the implications of these recommended rate hikes. It is crucial that we carefully consider the financial burden that will be placed on the residents of Illinois, especially in light of recent inflation. I am committed to doing everything I can to protect the financial well-being of my constituents.”
The rate case process, which has spanned 11 months, has seen varying proposals for profit rates. The recommended profit rates endorsed by the administrative judges overseeing the cases, which have been generally accepted by the commission staff, have sparked controversy. They include a 9.89 percent return to shareholders for Nicor and Ameren and a 9.83 percent return for Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas. These figures are lower than the companies’ requested rates but higher than those proposed by consumer advocates.
Rep. Egofske remains attentive to the commissioners’ deliberations as they consider these critical issues.