State Approves $4-A-Month Rate Hike For Peoples Gas

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CHICAGO (CBS) — State regulators have approved a rate hike for Peoples Gas, although it’s only about half as big as the natural gas provider was seeking.

The Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates the state’s power and gas utilities, approved a $68 million rate hike for Peoples Gas on Tuesday. The company originally sought a $125 million increase.

A People’s Gas spokeswoman said she could not say what that would mean for ratepayers, since the utility has not received the ICC ruling in writing.

But based on the original rate-hike request’s impact, the ICC action appears to show that Peoples Gas customers would pay slightly more than $4 extra each month, or $48 a year.

The utility’s original increase would have amounted to an additional $9 a month, or $108 more a year, for a typical residential customer.

People’s Gas requested the increase last year to cover rising expenses in delivering natural gas at a time of declining sales. The latest increase is on top of a People’s Gas rate increase of $48 a year that went into effect in early 2010.

Even before seeing the final numbers, the Citizens Utility Board said Tuesday it would appeal the gas rate hike, even though the ICC approved even less of an increase than its administrative law judge had recommended.

“Chicagoland gas customers are struggling in a tough economy,” said CUB Executive Director David Kolata in a statement. “The rate increase comes at the worst possible time for consumers, hitting bills in the heart of the Chicago winter.”

The ICC gave permission for the new rates to become effective in mid-January.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)

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